Supernova parents guide

Supernova Parent Guide

In character dramas, acting is everything. Thankfully, both lead actors are up to the challenge.

Overall B

Digital on Demand: Sam and Tusker have been partners for twenty years, and have decided to take a vacation to visit friends and family before Tusker's dementia destroys his memory completely.

Release date January 29, 2021

Violence B
Sexual Content A-
Profanity D
Substance Use B-

Why is Supernova rated R? The MPAA rated Supernova R for language.

Run Time: 93 minutes

Parent Movie Review

Tusker (Stanley Tucci) has early-onset dementia, and it’s getting worse. His partner, Sam (Colin Firth), is determined to make the most of whatever time Tusker has left so the two set out on a road trip across England to catch up with family and friends. But dementia doesn’t take holidays, and Tusker’s cognitive decline becomes increasingly hard to ignore. Although Sam intended the trip to be relaxing, both men must confront unspoken fears about their relationship and Tusker’s health.

In character dramas, casting is everything. Thankfully, both Colin Firth and Stanley Tucci are phenomenal. For two heterosexual men, the pair have some remarkable chemistry on screen. Both do some very emotional heavy lifting in bringing meaning and significance to long silences and brief glances. If nothing else, the two deserve some credit for spending so much time crying, which has to make for some very emotionally draining work days. Just be grateful your job doesn’t require performative lachrymation.

Content is almost solely limited to profanity, with one non-sexual scene of posterior nudity and occasional social drinking. There’s also a very PG-13 scene of two men making out in bed – Brokeback Mountain this ain’t. However, the emotionally difficult and mature subject matter make this a poor choice for teens – or, for that matter, date night. (Unless, of course, you’re hoping your date will sob on your shoulder, in which case this film might fit the bill.)

Another plus for Supernova film is the runtime, which is surprisingly brief for a romantic drama. Based on the trailer, I was fully braced for a 2+ hour ordeal, which is thankfully not the case. It’s even more impressive that the filmmakers have managed to work such a complex personal story into such a small window, and that it feels fully realized within those confines.

Supernova is what my mother would refer to as a “three Kleenex movie”. If you’re going to watch this, you’re basically committing to 90 minutes of content deliberately designed to make you sad. The plot is tragic, and that’s the point. Supernova explores what degenerative dementia does to people, both to patients and their families. It’s not an easy watch, but it is a good one.

Directed by Harry Macqueen. Starring Colin Firth, Stanley Tucci, and Pippa Haywood. Running time: 93 minutes. Theatrical release January 29, 2021. Updated

Watch the trailer for Supernova

Rating & Content Info

Why is Supernova rated R? Supernova is rated R by the MPAA for language.

Violence: There are references to euthanasia.
Sexual Content: There is one shot of male posterior nudity and a brief scene of two men kissing in bed.
Profanity: There are 12 uses of extreme profanity, four scatological curses, and infrequent mild profanities and terms of deity.
Alcohol / Drug Use: Adults are shown drinking socially.

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Supernova Parents' Guide

Tusker and Sam disagree about what Tusker’s ongoing care will look like. Who do you think has the better idea? Why? Do you think either of them is being unreasonable about the issue, or are they keeping an open mind? What are your beliefs about euthanasia? What is the legal status of euthanasia where you live? How does that change around the world?

Home Video

Related home video titles:

Another recently released film about a gay couple navigating difficult emotional problems is Uncle Frank, which is available on Amazon Prime.

An intellectual woman is horrified when she’s diagnosed with Early Onset Alzheimer’s Disease. In Still Alice, she struggles to hang on to her memory and her identity.

Dementia and pending death take center stage in Dick Johnson is Dead. In this documentary, director Kirsten Johnson and her father stage different death scenarios for him as his cognitive skills decline.

If you’re just here for Colin Firth and Stanley Tucci (and who can really blame you for that), the two co-starred with Kenneth Branagh in the made-for-tv film Conspiracy, which is based on historical records of the Wannsee Conference at which the holocaust was planned. Alternatively, if you share Tusker’s fascination with space, Werner Herzog’s recent documentary Fireball is an excellent option.