“A person dies when he loses his memories.”
In Supernova we see Sam (Colin Firth), a concert pianist, and Tusker (Stanley Tucci), a novelist, traveling across England’s Lake District, in their RV van to visit friends, family and places from their past. Tusker was diagnosed with dementia two years ago, and Sam and Tusker have been partners for over thirty years.
Driving along in their van, Sam and Tusker first engage in the familiar banter of any long-married couple who have spent the majority of their lives together. Tusker’s early onset dementia, frightening to both of them but left unsaid, soon has to be acknowledged.
“You’ll break my heart. It’ll last forever,” Sam confesses in one of the most heart-breaking lines in Supernova.
A supernova is a sudden unpredictable stellar explosion, sending shock waves into the starry sky. Normally, when a supernova is discovered, it has already progressed in the explosive process. That is what we witness–in a very understated British way–as Tusker loses the ability to control the executive functions of his mind. Dementia is a slow fade.
The chemistry between Colin Firth and Stanley Tucci, in two equally matched extraordinary lead performances, makes Supernova a beautiful portrait of love which has lasted over decades. And, on a more general theme, exposes us to the cruel loneliness as we age.
Note: The title of this film–Supernova–is a struggle to comprehend. I believe it is meant to be a metaphor for what we don’t know in a relationship which can implode or be late to discover. The script could have handled this theme more lucidly. The two main characters are amateur astronomers, but dialog about the relevance of the stars is hazy and nebulous.
Availability: Netflix DVD