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Review: Tucci, Firth light up resonant road trip drama 'Supernova'

Stanley Tucci and Colin Firth are a couple traveling the UK in their RV in this understated film that packs a punch

Adam Graham
Detroit News Film Critic

Stanley Tucci and Colin Firth play a couple on a road trip with an uncertain end in "Supernova," a moving, understated drama about love and loss and saying goodbye when the time is right. 

Tucci is Tusker, a novelist, and Firth is Sam, a concert pianist and composer. Together they're traveling through the UK in their RV, stopping at some favorite spots of theirs from over the years.

Stanley Tucci and Colin Firth in "Supernova."

But Tusker, who is suffering from the early stages of dementia and is seeing his faculties rapidly decline, has a secret he's keeping from Sam that changes the scope of their journey. 

Writer-director Harry Macqueen treats his characters with the same dignity that they're looking for from life. They're grown men who've lived full lives and are natural with each other, lightly jabbing at one another but always doing so out of love. 

Similarly, Macqueen's handling of Tusker's disease is dignified and not overly exaggerated for dramatic purposes. When we meet Tusker he's already experiencing early symptoms, wandering off or losing his abilities to communicate at a level to which he's accustomed.

As his condition worsens, Sam discovers Tusker's ulterior motive for the trip and confronts him, bringing up important questions about life, health and who gets to decide when it's time to throw in the towel. Is it the individual or the couple? And how should those decisions be made?  

"Supernova" is kind and compassionate and cognizant of the melodrama it manages to avoid. Its characters and situations feel real and its drama is earned, rather than manufactured. It's grounded in a way that keeps it earthbound, and in this case, that's better than shooting for the stars.  

agraham@detroitnews.com

@grahamorama 

'Supernova'

GRADE: B+

Rated R: for language

Running time: 94 minutes

In theaters, on VOD Feb. 16