Starring Colin Firth and Stanley Tucci
Directed by Harry Macqueen
It’s not easy to watch someone you love fade in front of you.Supernova is not an easy film to watch. It brings us so close to love , life, death and regret that we feel the full force of all the four emotions, like those waves undulating on those panoramic British shores that Sam and Tusker drive through.
Sam and Tusker, pianist and writer, have been lovers and companions for more than twenty years. Time is now running out on their till-death-do-us-part togetherness. Tusker(Stanley Tucci) has been diagnosed with dementia. Before he forgets everyone and everything, or, as Tusker puts its, forgets who is the one forgetting ,Tusker wants to end his life.
The realization that no matter how close you are to someone you may still not know him well enough hits Sam hard. He takes it badly. And since Sam is played by the redoubtable Colin Firth(if you have seen his range, from Mama Mia to The King’s Speech you would know he can play anything , manic depressive to gay) his seething rage at not being able to control the creeping progression of mortality into his love, is so palpable I felt it at the pit of my stomach.
Sam’s fading partner is played by another brilliant actor Stanley Tucci whom you may not have noticed. He has this habit of creeping into characters and disappearing into them completely. Here, Tucci’s Tusker is stubborn, witty, wise and dying. Though he is the wife in the homosexual partnership he is what you may call the dominant partner. Tusker’s helplessness at not being able to ensure that Sam won’t fall apart after the tragedy overtakes their love, is not what you will see through cinematic tropes(maudlin background music, dramatic expressions of rage and grief,etc). None of the usual signposts of tragedy here. It’s all done with seamless fluency, making every moment between the lovers-companions precious without punctuation, eternal without prompting.
On the surface Supernova is road film about two people in love trying to come to terms with a looming tragedy. Underneath there simmers a great wisdom and truth about human relationships. No matter how indelible and profound, death will conquer the heart.
I came away from Supernova a better human being. The film is not “directed” to showcase the talents of two British stalwarts. It is every inch a treatise on the finalty of love and the finiteness of feelings no matter how deep. I love the way the family-reunion episode has been shot, Sam’s family. But it’s Tusker who seems to warm up to them and to bond with every member of Sam’s family as though there is no tomorrow(there isn’t).
During a quiet moment away from the family bustle Tusker turns to Sam’s brother and asks, “You will look after him, won’t you?”
That’s the moment when my heart broke.