Job by Alexis Lebrun June 20, 2022
When two great actors who have been best friends for twenty years play together for the first time in the cinema, it can make sparks fly. This is the case of SUPERNOVA (Harry Macqueen, 2021), a film that tackles the difficult subject of the end of life and which only strengthens our love for Colin Firth and Stanley Tucci.
One last road trip
Sam (Colin Firth) and Tusker (Stanley Tucci) are what is often pejoratively called an old couple. But they may have been together for twenty years, they are still madly in love. Unfortunately, drama has crept into their relationship, as two years earlier Tusker was diagnosed with an incurable form of neurodegenerative disease. The couple can therefore do nothing but enjoy the time they have left together, knowing that the inevitable end is fast approaching. They choose to embark on a road trip in their campervan to retrace the footsteps of their youth, visiting a few friends and family members along the way. But Tusker’s illness and impending death are still lingering in their minds, and creating inevitable tensions about how to approach the end of his life.
Should you go to the end of your suffering even if you no longer recognize those around you, or is it better to decide when you leave to avoid suffering unnecessarily and leaving sad last memories for your loved ones? Through this gorgeous gay couple, director Harry Macqueen asks universal questions, which he treats with remarkable sobriety, delicacy and modesty. Similarly, the restraint and accuracy of Stanley Tucci and Colin Firth’s playing allows them to convey emotions that are difficult to resist. The chemistry between them is obviously impressive, since like the characters they play, they have known each other intimately for more than twenty years. Their first meeting dates back to the filming of CONSPIRATION (Frank Pierson, 2001), an essential HBO television film on the infamous Wannsee conference on the organization of the extermination of the Jews, where they therefore both played Nazis.
End of life and euthanasia: cinema on the front line
A few years after HINTERLAND (2014) an already very refined first feature film where two childhood friends also embarked on a road trip in the footsteps of their childhood, Harry Macqueen was therefore able to count this time on the participation of two great actors, but also in the very pretty photo of cinematographer Dick Pope – nominated twice for the Oscars for THE ILLUSIONNIST (Neil Burger, 2006) and MR. TURNER (Mike Leigh, 2014) – which sublimates the already incredible natural landscapes of the Lake District where Sam and Tusker go. Also screenwriter of SUPERNOVA, Macqueen proves on his side that he is able to get out of an exercise that could not be more perilous: to evoke the end of life and euthanasia without tripping over the carpet. However, he is not the only one in this case, since the year 2021 has been marked by several outstanding films on these difficult but topical themes.
There was of course the triumph of THE FATHER (Academy Awards for Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Actor), the first feature film by Florian Zeller, where the Frenchman brilliantly adapted his own play by entrusting the immense Anthony Hopkins with the role of a very old gentleman who loses his mind, and whose daughter (Olivia Colman) is helpless in the face of this situation. In France too, François Ozon tackled the subject with EVERYTHING WENT WELL, in which André Dussollier also plays a dependent man who is so diminished that he asks his daughter (Sophie Marceau) to help him leave. Finally, in BLACKBIRD (Roger Michell), this is Susan Sarandon who wishes to resort to euthanasia to shorten the incurable degenerative disease from which she suffers. A decision which is obviously not unanimous among his relatives, like the divisions of the French population on the subject. But like SUPERNOVA, these films can contribute to constructively advancing the debate on the right to die with dignity.
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SUPERNOVA: Colin Firth and Stanley Tucci, a moving gay couple | myCANAL Chad