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  Supernova Lose Yourself
Year: 2020
Director: Harry Macqueen
Stars: Colin Firth, Stanley Tucci, Pippa Haywood, James Dreyfus, Peter Macqueen, Nina Marlin, Ian Drysdale, Lori Campbell, Daneka Etchells, Halema Hussain, Julie Hannan
Genre: Drama, RomanceBuy from Amazon
Rating:  6 (from 1 vote)
Review: Sam (Colin Firth), a concert pianist, and Tusker (Stanley Tucci), a writer, have been together for decades now, and are on a trip through the Lake District of England, a place that has special meaning for them and will have even more meaning for them on this holiday. This is because Tusker, now in his sixties, has entered the early stages of dementia which has hit them both very hard, as while they have appreciated each other's company for years, they never considered that bond would come to an end. Obviously, they knew in their heart of hearts it was coming, but it all seems too soon now, not something they are in any way prepared for...

Supernova was 2020's other dementia drama, yet while The Father jumped into the mental fugue of the condition with both feet, this one preferred to pussyfoot around the matter, with Tusker not really coming across as someone who is suffering since he can still quip and chat away lucidly, and it's stuff like being unable to deliver a speech to a party that was supposed to indicate to the audience that his mind was slipping away. However, Tucci was such a vital screen presence, one familiar from other projects that viewers had responded to as a performer they genuinely liked, that he made an unconvincing Alzheimer’s patient as the drama unfolded.

Even when Sam discovers what his partner has been hiding away in a black box with his initials on and realises the extent that he is leaving his faculties, it's not as if Tusker is beginning to forget him, indeed he appears to have perfect recall of everyone he meets as the duo stop off at the house of Sam's sister (Pippa Haywood) for that "surprise" party. There's a worry that this was one of those movie diseases where the afflicted beams with an inner glow and never really looks as if there's a terminal illness in the offing: Tucci spends most of his scenes with a twinkle in his eye and the air of a man whose get up and go is very far from getting up and leaving.

What writer and director Harry Macqueen perhaps should have done was have Firth and Tucci swap roles, or their characters swap diagnoses, since the emotionally constipated Sam is far more believable as someone labouring under inner turmoil. Had the grumpy, taciturn Sam been slipping away, it would have afforded both actors a chance to play to their strengths as well as stretch themselves a little more, for they were all too predictable in their responses to the situation. As they travel the picture perfect hills and dales of Cumbria, it was too chocolate boxy for a story about the anguish of losing someone you love, and the way that we don't learn too much about the triumphs and turmoils of an ageing gay couple and what they had endured down the years only to be cruelly shut down by nature meant we had to go on what we saw in the moment.

If you were willing to overlook the movie movie approach to dementia, and how darned tasteful it all was, there were nevertheless scenes and moments where the tone landed its strikes, mainly when we were able to get a sense of the couple who know one another so well that when they manage to surprise their partner, it's actually more of an unpleasant shock. Every so often was a bit where the personal tragedy peeked through the quiet restraint, and that balance of the surface with the torrents raging beneath was Macqueen's main strength. His actors helped in that respect too, carefully modulating their responses as their characters endeavoured to sustain normality in the face of their imminent split, not a split because they had fallen out, far from it, and that developed a cumulative power that Tusker's hidden plans for drastic action brought to a head. That said, dementia doesn't leave much room for romantic gestures, and there was a little too much romantic fantasy about the presentation here. Music (sad piano music, naturally) by Keaton Henson.

[Supernova on Digital 24th September and Blu-ray and DVD on 27th September 2021.]
Reviewer: Graeme Clark


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