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  • Writer's pictureMax Markowitz


See It or Skip It?

See It: A stand-up and clap masterpiece with superb performances that remind us all that Love STILL exists. You can also expect enchanted music and lovely cinematography.


A little over 6 years ago, I went to Kendall Square Cinema in Boston for the first time. I don't live in Boston but it's long become my favorite independent cinema and I've seen a lot there. I think I was 16 the first time I was there and I saw Still Alice in which Julianne Moore plays a woman who becomes diagnosed with early Alzheimer's. I read everywhere that she was bound to win the Oscar so of course, I saw it as soon as I could. Moore was heartfelt as always but I remember walking out of the theater feeling bitter because one scene stood out to me so much that it actually affected how I saw the film as a whole. There's a scene towards the end where she's giving a speech on what it's been like for her since she's been diagnosed and she says “I am not suffering, I am struggling”.

I've always been very passionate about the most horrible of things being portrayed with absolutely no censorship and being rightfully acknowledged as the ugly afflictions that they really are - no sugar coating. Those who are suffering shouldn't be made to feel like they have to keep it inside... The people who live through all this deserve to be seen and that can't happen if you minimize what they're going through and that's exactly what Still Alice did. It promoted the idea that those with dementia who have lots of people and doctors and resources shouldn't feel anguish from the illness because they supposedly have support around them. There is no support if you can't even remember what it's for or what it is. They tried to make dementia look moving and inspiring when it's everything but those things. The filmmakers of Still Alice certainly didn't intend to do this but they did and it's an ongoing issue in all kinds of films, especially ones that deal with this subject matter.

Harry Macqueen’s Supernova is a giant step in the right direction. Supernova is not so much about what dementia does to your mind and your body but rather what that turmoil does to its victims and the people they love. Dementia is rightfully portrayed here as this ugly monstrous beast, not something you need to accept and learn to live with because that's what society encourages.

Sam (Colin Firth) and Tusker (Stanley Tucci) have been together for years and Supernova opens with their beginning what will be their final road trip together across the moors of England before dementia takes over the recently diagnosed Tusker completely. Firth and Tucci deliver some of their best work here as individuals whose circumstances you desperately wish was happening to anyone else but them. Throughout the film, you grow to really know them completely inside and out and they feel like people you know but also people you've never met before all at the same time.

One of Supernova’s most appreciated strengths is that it's not shackled to being defined as a film solely about dementia. It's about so many other things such as love, fear, time, beginnings, endings, strength, desire, commitment, happiness, peace, and beauty. Halfway through the film, Sam and Tusker arrive at an adorable rental property (Not since Kate Winslet’s adorable tiny fairytale cottage in the Holiday have I seen homes like this) where over dinner, they both finally come clean on everything they wouldn't say out loud. Dementia has already started to take effect on the trip and Tusker wants to end his life when it's over fearing his burden on Sam as well as having to live with who he'll become. Sam fears for the worst but wants to give up everything for him and dedicate the rest of their lives to taking care of him.

The film is very much like a play at this point. It's about the importance of what's said, what that means for them as characters and us as their audience. In their most vulnerable moments, you feel like they're right in front of you just like stage actors are in the theater. The score is absolutely exquisite and the cinematography perfectly gets every last piece of those beautiful moors.

Somehow, we've gotten to a place where how inhuman the world is has become so public and so exposed that even though Supernova has deep sadness, it also offers hope for audiences because it reminds us that love STILL exists. It is NOT over. With hearts like the two on display in the film, we all may just make it. Just maybe…

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Apr 14, 2021

Hey Max, great review! My wife and daughter saw "Supernova" a couple of weeks ago, and really enjoyed it as well. Thank you for taking the time to review this. I plan to see it very soon!--Ron Gilbert

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