Supernova – an intimate portrait of love in the face of loss


Supernova is released in cinemas nationwide from June 25th.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

In 2015, Harry MacQueen’s directorial debut, Hinterland, wowed critics with an intimate and delicate portrayal of love, and now he is back with his second feature in the director’s chair. Supernova not only builds on the themes present in his directorial debut but does so with a compelling level of intimacy and emotion. Here the deep and enduring love of an older gay couple faces the crushing horror and loss of early-onset dementia as both men navigate an uncertain future in differing ways.

Tusker (Stanley Tucci) and his partner Sam (Colin Firth) are about to embark on a holiday in the Lake District – the rolling hills, lakes and woodland an escape from their busy lives as an author and a pianist. As they drive, they share memories of their previous trips while bickering about the plans for their journey as they look forward to visiting family and friends before a rare public piano recital from Sam.


But, as Sam pulls over at a service station for food and drinks, Tusker goes missing. Sam desperately searches for his partner, only to find him standing on a nearby road, their dog at his side. It is clear that this trip is far more precious than it first seems as Tusker slowly succumbs to early-onset dementia. Here the couple’s vacation is a final opportunity to be together as equals before Tusker vanishes into himself.

Tusker is a man who has spent his life writing, battling his dementia every step of the way while his notebook slowly descends into a series of scribbles. While Sam has not yet accepted that Tusker is struggling to keep things together, hiding his sadness with a relentless belief that everything is just fine. For both men, the discussions of what comes next have been shielded by a need for strength as they attempt to protect one another, their trip a final opportunity to face the heartbreaking choices and decisions they must both make.

The emotional power of Supernova sits within Harry Macqueen’s mature and tender screenplay and play-like structure. But when this is placed in the hands of Firth and Tucci, Supernova becomes a stunning slice of character-driven drama. Here both men encapsulate the pain, love and fear of a couple facing their greatest challenge – a challenge that can no longer be avoided.


The result is a poignant road trip of love, beauty and fear, the scenes between Firth and Tucci holding us in a vice-like grip. Here Macqueen’s delicate direction ensures both men remain the sole focus, creating a truly intimate performance space that we feel privileged to enter. This mix of intimacy and stunning performances delivers a two-person play of immense emotion. Here we are swept away by a single moment in time where life, love and loss collide – the bonds of love and care between both men transcending the decisions they must face together. Just as a supernova marks the final explosion of a dying star, the bright shining star of Tusker and Sam’s love burns in the sky before slowly fading in a movie packed with emotion, warmth, love and loss.

Director: Harry Macqueen

Cast: Colin FirthStanley TucciLori Campbell, James Dreyfus, Ian Drysdale


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