Wednesday, January 27, 2021

A couple on a journey toward the end

    Recently, it seems as if I've been watching nothing but movies about death and dying. That impression probably isn't entirely true and may stem from reading daily news reports about the pandemic and its ghastly mortality rate.
   Supernova, which stars Stanley Tucci and Colin Firth as  long-time lovers is a death movie with a double whammy. Tucci's Tusker, a novelist by trade, has an increasingly encompassing case of dementia. 
   This means that he's destined to disappear before he actually dies. Firth's Sam decides that they should take one last trip before Tusker's memory completely disintegrates and he no longer even recognizes Sam.
   The two pile into a van and travel through the English north country with a stop at Sam's sister's home. 
    Tusker takes medication meant to slow his decline, but he leaves it at home, a clue that the journey has a different final destination than the one Sam, a pianist, anticipates.
    Tucci and Firth convincingly create a couple with behavior patterns, endearments, and gentle squabbles that have evolved  over many years. 
    I called them lovers earlier in this review. That may be the wrong term. They're lovers, of course, but they're also an old couple who have grown entirely accustomed to each other's ways.
   Sam says he's fully prepared to spend the rest of his life caring for Tusker -- even it means going beyond the point where Tusker knows who he is. Tusker has another idea: I won't say what it is, but you probably already know. 
   The performances aren't showy and director Harry Macqueen doesn't hurry toward the end of the road for a couple engulfed in deep sorrow while still clinging to many of the routine interactions that have defined their relationship.
   Macqueen tends to be more even-handed than gut-wrenching. Supernova isn't a tear-jerker. The chemistry between the actors and the filmmakers results in a movie that's admirably respectful of the intimacy and burden a couple faces when confronting the inevitable.

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