Reel Dad: Colin Firth and Stanley Tucci shine in heartfelt film 'Supernova'

Colin Firth and Stanley Tucci star in

Colin Firth and Stanley Tucci star in "Supernova."

Bleeker Street Media / Contributed photo

A centerpiece sequence in the marvelous film “Supernova” places the two lead characters in the middle of a delightful dinner party filled with family and friends, love and laughter, food and wine. Together they reminisce about the past, wonder about the future, and celebrate the joys of connecting with others. It’s a pivotal moment in the film, and a special one for any of us watching. After nearly a year of COVID-19 mandated isolation, watching how these people on screen spontaneously gather with such warmth is a welcome change from days filled with social distance.

Two partners for 20 years - Tusker and Sam - travel in their aging motorhome across the English countryside in a search for answers to fundamental questions about their lives. After so many years together, these two men face serious change as Tusker quickly sinks in the depths of dementia. As he fears losing control of his life, and forgetting the people he loves, he and Sam seriously confront the choices they can and can’t make as they try to plot their way through such a challenging chapter.

The tragedies of dementia often make the journey to a movie screen with the authenticity of “Away from Her,” the lessons of “Amour” and the good intentions of “Still Alice.” This film distinguishes itself by how carefully it develops the layers of this core relationship. We don’t simply feel sad for Tusker and Sam, we adore them as individuals, and as a couple because we quickly connect with the details of their lives. Tusker endears with his fussy attention to detail while Sam engages with his sense of calm. Together they make us believe in the tragedy of dementia by enabling us to bathe in the brightness of their love for each other.

Fortunately, writer/director Harry Macqueen never lets the sentimentality of the story get in the way of its clarity. Neither man is perfect; both openly reveal their quirks to each other and to us. But their weaknesses matter less than the humanity they project. We care for what happens to these people because they make us want to care. Stanley Tucci and Colin Firth beautifullybring Tusker and Sam to life on screen by creating people so comfortable with the routines they share that they naturally address what threatens their connection. While Tucci makes the most of a showier role, as Tusker battles the realities of the disease, Firth’s sense of reason centers the film. Seeing his character’s pain as he observes what he cannot fix, Firth captures the agony that any caregiver can experience when options seem to disappear. Together the actors deliver a master class in how to underplay the drama to enable an audience to thoroughly feel.

At a time in our real world when we want to reach out, a film as special as “Supernova” reminds us how little it can take to make someone’s day that more meaningful. Especially if today becomes difficult to remember.

“Supernova” runs 1 hour and 35 minutes. The film is rated R. It is showing on demand as well as on Amazon Prime.

Summary: Supernova

Content: High. This loving look at how partners deal with serious change offers a life lesson to all of us on what commitment to others can ultimately mean.

Entertainment: High. Because writer/director Harry Macqueen approaches the story with such care and respect, we feel we get to spend several days with these marvelous people.

Message: High. At a moment when our lives off screen can feel strained by isolation, the togetherness this film celebrates is simply joyful.

Relevance: High. Any opportunity to learn more about what people can mean to each other offers worthwhile lessons.

Opportunity for Dialogue: High. The movie can give you, and your older children, a chance to consider how you might find your path through challenging moments.