Dementia has always been a rich subject for filmmakers to explore, but it's rare to have two movies in quick succession that brilliantly showcase the heartbreaking realities of living with the condition.
Where The Father skilfully put us in the mind of a person living with progressing dementia, Supernova widens the scope by exploring the impact it has on the long-term relationship of Sam (Colin Firth) and Tusker (Stanley Tucci) as they travel across England on holiday.
Supernova is no less powerful or heartbreaking as a result of its approach, effectively showing the horror of the condition as The Father did, while also confronting the harsh realities of how dementia can affect everybody.
It's a tough watch and you might not want to revisit it, but it's still an absolute must-watch now that it's finally out in UK cinemas.
Supernova starts innocently enough: Sam and Tusker bicker in their campervan as they travel to visit old friends. It's reminiscent of any holiday you've taken with a partner or loved ones. And while we don't get much of the couple's history, every interaction makes it clear that they're in love and have been for a long time.
It soon becomes clear though that Sam and Tusker are having to confront a new reality as Tusker has been diagnosed with young-onset dementia. Underneath the surface, the trip begins to take on the sense of 'one last ride' as they talk about plans that have been put on hold and jobs that have been given up.
As the trip progresses, we get moments that show the impact of dementia on Tusker's life, but Supernova is not a movie that grandstands. It's a quiet and restrained journey that focuses on Sam and Tusker's relationship, rather than big awards-bait moments, which makes its emotional beats more impactful.
With such a low-key approach, performances are key and writer-director Harry Macqueen could not have hoped for two better leads. We know that Colin Firth and Stanley Tucci are both excellent, but even by their high standards, they hit another level in Supernova and say a lot without saying much at all.
Take, for instance, a dinner party where Tusker plans to give a big speech, but finds himself unable to. Sam takes over and reads it out, including Tusker's warm words about his partner, and the camera focuses on Tusker's face, quietly breaking at his inability to read it and yet trying to put on a brave front.
It's just the first of several moments in Supernova that will leave you a wreck, but it never feels exploitative. Firth and Tucci share such a warm and endearing chemistry that the dramatic moments are earned, especially as secrets are revealed in the final act and some devastating truths are confronted.
While there's no doubt that the final moments of Supernova are truly heartbreaking, it's because of Sam and Tusker's bond that they're beautiful as well. Firth and Tucci excel at making their relationship so genuine that even when difficult decisions are made, you'll understand that it's done out of love.
It won't stop the tears from flowing, but there's a warmth there that you'll remember long after the emotional pain has gone.
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