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Alex Reynolds: Tucci, Firth shine in supernova

 

Alex Reynolds: Tucci, Firth shine in supernova

John Best

The title, suggesting an outer space adventure, really plays out in an earthly, intimately embraced, same sex relationship threatened by the scourge of dementia. Unwavering affection fortifies the couple; a rose-coloured love and friendship united against the early onset of the cognitive invader.

Renowned screen headliners, Academy Award winner Colin Firth and Academy Award nominee Stanley Tucci, amplify their real life friendship as fictional buddies and lovers in a story projecting emotional sincerity. Tusker (Tucci) and Sam (Firth), together for 20 years, now have to adjust to the reality of Tusker’s deteriorating mental condition. Sam is compelled to down play his life in order to become a caregiver to his partner.

So begins a hit-the-road adventure to capture life that soon may be curtailed. Their plan is to rekindle associations with family and friends, and to roam once again in familiar places. Their time together has become the most important aspect of their lives and every moment they share has a weight that once was not there.

There are emotions plenty as magnified by the yearning of an individual with limited time to enjoy life. Tusker is aware he’s beginning to lose control and his condition is having an overwhelming effect on them. One wonders how a person feels gratification though silently grieving, even as compassion flows from a loved one who maintains a level of strength. Is it too much to bear for the couple knowing the end is down the road?

During the trip together, individual ideas for their future become adversarial. Secrets are revealed and their relationship is being measured. They must confront the reality of their love in facing Tusker’s incurable illness.

There is emphasis on heart tugging empathy in the original screenplay by Harry Macqueen, who also directs the film. He skillfully integrates heavy emotions into the weighty story augmented by a sense of solace. Macqueen’s script, and poignant performances by Tucci and Firth blend well. Being close friends in real life makes the connection to the narrative all the more powerful.

On their trip down memory lane, cares are lifted as we eavesdrop on the gentle back-and-forth banter between driver and navigator, recalling highlites of their many years together. There’s a gentle warmness here despite the ever present gloom that has necessitated the getaway holiday.

I’m keen on observing actors in service to the author’s literary contribution. Whether comedic or dramatic, their interpretation (guided by the director) enhances my overall positive appraisal of the film. It’s satisfying to see Colin Firth and Stanley Tucci, established film and television personalities, handle rather offbeat roles with over-the-back-fence realism allowing the viewer to feel right neighbourly.

Male-male romance is not the issue here…..it’s just two people deeply in love for twenty years, facing an obstacle threatening their relationship. Instead of giving in, Tusker and Sam mount a heroic defence of their long term union. Firth and Tucci go against type in skilfull portrals of homosexual men, side stepping the tiresome swishy fey mannerisms long depicted in films.

There are many beautiful moments in their give-and-take drama. At one time, Tusker had been Sam’s hero, but fate’s malicious plan revolves, putting Sam in control. Fighting against time, he’s determined to fill his love partner’s life with joyful physical and mental balance.

“Supernova” is a small, tug-the-heart-strings character-based narrative bouyed by grand performances from Firth and Tucci who deliver an emotional impact of unfailing devotion. Two lives shaped by love, have been cruelly plundered by the onset of dementia, leaving memory loss for one, the other having an abundance of it.

Harry Macqueen’s screenplay is honest, the writing on edge, and dialogue sad, yet beautiful. One feels a kinship to Sam and Tusker. Onscreen friends to viewers responsive to their dilemma. “Supernova” is simply reflecting the mysteries of life, death, and love,

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