Review: 'Supernova' is That Rare Mainstream Gay Movie

by Roger Walker-Dack

EDGE Media Network Contributor

Friday January 29, 2021


There are still far too few mainstream LGBT movies being made, even nowadays. This year only "Uncle Frank," by Academy Award Winner Alan Ball, has surfaced so far. As good as it was, it still leaves a very big gap. Whilst indie queer cinema that fills the LGBTQ Film Festival circuit is alive and very well, the chances of those films making the leap and finding a wider audience are still very limited.

Not that all mainstream queer movies find a happy reception in the LGBTQ community, probably because we hold them to a high standard.  Also, so many of them just cannot resist including some offensive homophobic stereotypes.

But then, before we sink into complete despair, along comes an excellent mainstream movie that is so spot-on that we can actually smile.again. (Well if the truth be known, we bawled our eyes out throughout... but that's another story.)

"Supernova" is the sophomore movie from British actor turned talented writer/director Harry Macqueen. Both of his films deal deal with love and loss, but this time it is between two gay, just beyond middle-aged, men.

Classical pianist Sam (Academy Award winner Colin Firth) and acclaimed novelist Tusker (Academy Award nominee Stanley Tucci) are a 60-something couple currently touring the England's picturesque Lake District 

The scene opens with playful bickering that you would expect from a pair who have been coupled for almost 30 years and are still very much in love. The reason for the trip is that Sam, who has recently been taking a break from performing, is due to play at a comeback concert.

The pair also plan to take a vacation visiting family in the area. But there is also another reason that the pair avoid talking about, and that is Tusker's recent diagnosis of  early onset dementia. This, therefore, may be the last chance for some quality time together before the disease takes over.

Both Tucci and Firth's finely nuanced performances are unquestionably career best. The chemistry between them is exceptional, and so very convincing, as they capture how love really feels. Despite the highly emotional storyline, they somehow manage to avoid any hint of sentimentality or melodrama, which makes us connect to them even more.

Macqueen's tale has nothing to do with the men's sexuality, but is about how these two successful men were happy to concede their individual independence to make their relationship work so well.

Even now, at this point in life, they can still find time to have an occasional secret, and on this occasion it threatens to blow them apart. It's all about control: Both of them want to deal with how the future will play out in their own different ways.

Of course, any film that centers on dementia has the problem of how to finish the storyline, and this one, fortunately, does it better than expected,  However, it doesn't help avoid the overwhelming sense of sadness that makes this a tough film to watch for people facing similar situations in real life - or, just for people over a certain age.

It was Tucci who suggested that Firth be cast alongside him, and kudos to him for that. Firth had picked up a Oscar nomination for playing a bereaved gay English professor in Tom Ford's "A Single Man." Tucci, on the other hand, has played two stereotypically camp gay men, one in "The Devil Wears Prada" and one in "Burlesque." We can forgive him for them now.

This is a queer film in every sense of the word, even if the filmmakers and actors are not. It is extraordinary and wonderful, and it shows our community at its very best. Even though it makes us cry like hell, we love every second of it.

"Supernova" will be released in theaters January 29, 2021.

Roger Walker-Dack, a passionate cinephile, is a freelance writer, critic and broadcaster and the author/editor of three blogs. He divides his time between Miami Beach and Provincetown.