Let’s face it: films about incurable diseases are usually filled with lengthy emotional manipulations. The disease in question is mostly used as a tool for action rather than engaging in research into the character of the protagonist in question. Gabriela Cowperthwaites Our friend was a recently released film that used terminal cancer as a plot tool to manipulate viewers in spectacular ways Faux-emotional arcs. I admit I was quite skeptical when I immersed myself in Harry Macqueens Supernovathat tells the story of a couple traveling around the UK to visit friends. Tusker (Stanley Tucci) has been diagnosed with dementia and is slowly losing his memory, while Sam (Colin Firth) wants to share what remains of Tusker’s “memories” before he dies that Sam cannot process. However, there is never a moment when Supernova delves into cheesy, poorly written melodrama full of cheap manipulations and clichés, but instead is an incredibly heartbreaking portrait of a couple forced to let themselves go and show flawless performances at their core.
There is no possibility Supernova would have been as good as it is if it hadn’t been for the incredibly close and human performances of Colin Firth and Stanley Tucci as Sam and Tusker respectively. Both give the characters a raw sense of humanity, and many of the film’s most enticing sequences are conveyed through that “humanity.” Harry Macqueen understands that the audience doesn’t have to do this explicitly see that Tuccis Tusker has dementia and his memory is slowly disappearing. Most of Tusker’s psychological anxiety is told through micro-facial expressions: a somber face, an eye looking the other way, or a general sense of discomfort from Tusker’s perception of his future with Sam gives the audience everything they need to know about Sam’s condition . Most of the film’s best acting moments are conveyed through the facial expressions of Tucci and Firth – and Macqueen’s preference to implicitly rather than explicitly portray Tusker’s condition makes the characters feel fantastically human and never use them as emotional plot tools.
Instead, the emotion arrives naturally, with one sequence shifting the entire direction of the film from simple, romantic drama to a heartbreaking portrayal of loss and “letting go”. Macqueen introduces the humanity of Sam and Tusker in the first half of the film. They are both popular and very successful people among their friends and in England. Tusker is a writer while Sam plays the piano. Tusker can’t remember reading or writing, which makes the scene where Sam is forced to read his speech especially heartbreaking. While SupernovaIn the first half, the film moves briskly but doesn’t quite reach the emotional level it should be aimed at. Everything changes, however, when Sam finds a hidden bottle of pentobarbital and learns that the love of his life is about to commit suicide before his condition gets any worse. That’s where Supernova rises and becomes something much deeper than the original premise suggests.
The conversation that preceded Sam’s learning of Tusker’s plans demonstrates Macqueen’s mastery in handling a dark topic such as suicide with the utmost care and emotion. It develops Sam’s love for Tusker and is never used as a cheap action tool for pure manipulation. We humans are all finite and will suffer losses at some point in our lives. Mortality is part of the great cycle of life and how we deal with the impending death of our (or someone else) human is something we don’t want to think about, but ultimately need to. Supernova brilliantly reminds the audience of our mortality – that as humans we are not permanent and must make the most of what we have to enjoy every breath of life while we are healthy and strong, before a serious illness or the Death take a toll on us. Sam takes for granted the last moments he will spend with Tusker and thinks his goal is to take care of him until he dies. However, Tusker does not want that. He wants to end his life on his terms and wants to be reminded of who he is and not what he will become.
This moment is the most heartbreaking part of Supernova. It reminds the audience that we are not in control of our lives and need to focus on its most positive moments, even in the face of terrible adversity or, in this case, knowing that our individuality and clarity are slowly being eradicated by an illness that we have no control over. The final scene in the film in which Sam plays Edward Elgars Salut d’Amour in front of an audience embraces his entire love for Tusker in a musical performance. Tormented by an almost insurmountable amount of grief and guilt that he wasn’t aware of Tusker’s plans, Sam shows all of his emotions through music in the most soul-destroying finale of any movie released this year. Supernova Perhaps it is not for everyone as it involves fairly serious topics like suicide, death, and coming to terms with impending grief, but the film is a necessary consideration to remind everyone of how finite we are and how we need to cherish every moment of our lives fullest before it’s too late. Do yourself a favor and get this movie out right away. You will not regret it.