“Supernova” is an ode to the things that we live for. In fact, the core of “Ode on Intimations of Immortality from Recollections of Early Childhood” by William Wordsworth, a classic example of an actual ode, is remarkably similar to what “Supernova” is about. The first stanza reads as follows:
There was a time when meadow, grove, and stream,
The earth, and every common sight,
To me did seem
Apparelled in celestial light,
The glory and the freshness of a dream.
It is not now as it hath been of yore;—
Turn wheresoe'er I may,
By night or day.
The things which I have seen I now can see no more.
If you took the essence of Wordsworth’s words above and applied them to a relationship instead of nature — the reminisces of what was and the acceptance of what is — and put it on the silver screen, you would get “Supernova.” Another coincidence: the significance of the title of the film is precisely an “intimation of immortality”; it argues that we all leave an indelible impact on the world through the interactions we have with the people in our lives, no matter how small and insignificant they may seem. Each and every one of us is made up of the myriad of interactions of the people that have died before us, just as — physically — we are made up of stardust from several generations of stars that have died before us.
What writer-director Harry Macqueen has done is eliminated all of the schmaltz, but kept all of the magic of love. Unlike typical Hollywood films that focus on the start of a relationship, he instead provides an intimate glimpse into a relationship in its final stages, a relationship that has passed the test of time but is now being tested by the ever looming inevitability of our lives. It is transcendental and, yet, is so rooted in reality.
Actors Colin Firth (“The King’s Speech”) and Stanley Tucci (“The Lovely Bones”) are no strangers to powerful performances, and it is evident in “Supernova.” They each express internal conflicts and intense emotions effortlessly, and, together — through heart-wrenching arguments and heartfelt acts of affection — they forge a connection that seems like it had been built over decades in a mere hour and a half. And it is the evocative cinematography that provides the lens to fully absorb their performances. Unlike classic British films, which — at least in my experience — are characterized by a fluttery piano score, “Supernova” instead relies on the mellifluous notes of what I think is a harp — ironically, Firth’s character is a pianist and he does play a piece in the film — to pervade the tacit interactions of their relationship.
“Supernova” is a compendium of the defining moments of a relationship, from the petty squabbles to the remnants of the past. It is a portrayal of love at its purest. It is sweet, but poignant; it is short, but timeless; and it is not just worth watching, but also remembering.