Released worldwide last year as part of the San Sebastian Festival competition, this second feature film by British actor and director Harry Macqueen focuses on Sam and Tusker, an English couple who, together with their dog Ruby, take a trip in their truck, traveling idyllic places that they visited in other times of their relationship that already spans two decades. The final destination is a concert, the last one that Sam, who is a prominent British pianist, will offer before retiring, and the tour includes a stop at his youth home, where his sister and family await them.
But not everything is as peaceful and everyday as you might expect, because this is not just any trip: Tusker is a renowned writer of American origin who has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and although it is a reality that both have assumed and have tried to normalize as part of their daily lives, it becomes more and more difficult as the disease progresses.
Subtleties and acting restraint
Memory loss and how it affects our lives and those of our loved ones, is increasingly present in our society. And the cinema has echoed this in various titles that revolve around this problem, especially in the last 15 years, with examples such as “Far from her” (2007), “Siempre Alice” (2014), “Lo what we were ”(2018) and the recent and still pending official premiere on these sides“ The father ”.
In this new film, a serene tone is chosen, without great fanfare, in which the melancholy of the irreversible floats and where the interpretation of its leading partner is fundamental, thanks to two actors as experienced as Colin Firth and Stanley Tucci. Probably because he is also an actor – in fact, he starred in his debut as a director in 2014, with “Hinterland” – Macqueen knows how to take advantage of and accentuate very well the resources of both to make their relationship credible and the complicity that unites them, something that is Very important considering that although they interact with other characters at different times, they are ultimately the center of the plot and spend many moments alone the two of them throughout the hour and a half that the film lasts. Thus, the intimacy, the tenderness, the sympathetic episodes and how they complement each other feel real (at times the character of Tucci can be a bit affected or unbearable, but the interaction with Firth helps us to feel balanced and convincing), but also the growing differences that arise due to the situation they are experiencing and the revelations that may appear.
Sobriety and serenity
Macqueen takes risks, especially in the last half hour, when not only does he not resort to low blows or tearful excesses, but even chooses not to use music for more than 20 minutes, in scenes in which any other filmmaker would have opted for manipulative and melodramatic. chords. In fact, the use of Keaton Henson’s beautiful soundtrack, with its expressive use of the strings, is very limited and only appears on specific occasions.
It is precisely this way of developing the story, sober and serene, that can play against the film to be even more powerful and moving. Curiously, so much subtlety contrasts with the original title of the feature film, “Supernova”, which has to do with the writer’s love of studying the stars and is connected with a kind of metaphor, perhaps a bit literal, while the title that It is used for the premiere in these latitudes: “A memorable love”, does not correspond entirely to what we see in this story, and even the loss of Tusker’s memory gives even another meaning to the name.
But despite this possible over-containment, which will make the pace feel languid or even slow for a few viewers, the result is still worth it. Either because it is necessary to continue addressing this painful reality that is becoming more and more everyday, or because there are also not many stories that touch on the love between two mature men; or to appreciate the bucolic beauty of the landscapes of the county of Cumbria, in the north-west of England, so well captured by the photography of Dick Pope, habitual collaborator of the filmmaker Mike Leigh and twice Oscar nominee, for “The Illusionist”, 2006 , and “Mr. Turner ”, 2014.
Original title: Supernova
Director: Harry Macqueen
Gender: Romantic drama
Duration: 94 minutes
With: Colin Firth, Stanley Tucci, Pippa Haywood, Peter MacQueen, Nina Marlin, Ian Drysdale, Sarah Woodward, James Dreyfus
Script: Harry Macqueen
Song: Keaton Henson
Production: Tristan Goligher, Emily Morgan
Release date: June 17
Distributor / Platform: BF Distribution / Cinema online from Cinemark