Supernova is a 2020 British drama film written and directed by Harry Macqueen. The film stars Colin Firth and Stanley Tucci. The premise of Supernova is fairly depressing as Firth and Tucci play a gay couple, Sam and Tusker, respectively. Tusker was diagnosed with dementia two years before and the couple take a road trip in their old RV before Tusker loses his memories and sense of self.
S P O I L E R S
That’s basically the plot of Supernova. Nothing much else happens though there is one specific conflict that provides the dramatic need of the two characters. A difference of opinion between the couple as to how to deal with Tusker’s dementia.
Arguably, this plot point would be considered a SPOILER but there’s no getting around discussing the same. Tusker decides that before he loses his mind, he wants to commit suicide as he says that that would be the only thing left that he can control.
Naturally, Sam is dead set against Tusker’s plan and while there is a short time of resistance, ultimately Sam agrees. And that’s how it ends. Tusker’s suicide – if it happens – is never presented on screen.
Now, when reviewing and analysing film, we have made a point to look at structural elements that make for a good and engaging story. Typically, you have a main character (or two) and this character has a need or quest that he or she pursues that drives the story forward. Ultimately, there is a climax which determines whether the main character achieves his or her quest. This is, in a nutshell, what most effectives stories contain.
Supernova – like the highly feted Nomadland – is very light on plot and one might argue that nothing really happens throughout the movie. However, we would postulate that unlike Nomadland, nominally we can say that Tusker is the main character and his need is to commit suicide to spare Sam (and himself) the horrific impact of dementia. Thus, at least structurally, Supernova has been set up to engage the audience, unlike Nomadland, which literally goes nowhere in its narrative.
Recommended for the regular arthouse set.
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