’ve been recommending the movie Supernova to friends for the past couple of months. When I first mentioned it, virtually all of them have thought of the lame 2000 sci-fi/ horror flick that starred a frequently naked James Spader and Angela Bassett. Uh, not THAT Supernova. This new,

grounded-in-reality Supernova stars Oscar winner Colin Firth and Oscar nominee Stanley Tucci as a longtime gay couple faced with the challenge of one partner’s early onset dementia. It is now playing in select theatres and will be available for

streaming beginning Tuesday, February 16. Firth and Tucci are receiving awards buzz for their performances

as Sam and Tusker, respectively. Sam and Tusker have spent 20 years together, and they are as passionately in love as they have ever been. But in the two years since Tusker was diagnosed with early onset dementia (specifically Posterior Cortical Atrophy, or PCA), their lives have had to change. As Tusker’s condition worsens, Sam is forced to place his life on hold and become his partner’s full-time caregiver. Their time together has become the most important aspect of their lives, so they plan a road trip across England while Tusker is still able to travel, to see friends and family, and revisit memories from their long life together. Supernova was written and directed by British filmmaker Harry

Macqueen. It is the talented Macqueen’s second feature following a successful acting career. He was inspired to write it after both a former co-worker and a close friend’s father were diagnosed with early onset dementia in 2015. Macqueen was also struck by the documentary Right to Die? that follows a 59-year-old man and his wife of 37 years to a clinic in Switzerland specializing in physician- assisted suicide. Once there, the man legally took his own life rather than prolong his declining condition. “The man in the documentary, my colleague, and my friend’s fa- ther all had versions of young onset dementia that had played out in very different ways,” Macqueen wrote in his film’s press notes. “These experiences made me want to find out more about this disorder specifically, as well as the vital debate around end-of-life choices – one that still rages to this day in many countries around the world. Running parallel to this was my passionate desire to write a story that framed a same-sex relationship in an original

manner; to present a loving relationship for which the sexuality of the characters didn’t in any way shape the narrative.” Macqueen developed the screenplay over a three-year period,

working closely with leading dementia specialists at University College London (UCL) and the Wellcome Trust, a charity dedicated to supporting science and research in the fields of biomedical research and medical humanities. He also collaborated with many individuals and families affected by the condition. Once the script was finished, Macqueen and his producers

moved on to casting. They discussed the notion of making one of the couple American, and what that might do to the dynamic of the film’s primary relationship. “The fact that one of them was American became a strategic way of not making the project feel too British,” producer Emily Morgan said. “We liked the idea of coming at it slightly from leftfield, so that there was an edge and originality to the pairing.” That’s when they came up with the notion of approaching Tucci, who lives in London. “He has that edge of being American, but at the same time he’s so embedded in the UK,” Morgan said. “He was an ideal choice.” Tucci said he was “floored” by Macqueen’s screenplay. It was

during Tucci’s first meeting with Macqueen that the subject of who would play Sam, the other half of the relationship, was first broached. “We got on famously,” Macqueen remembered, “and during my meeting with him, he said, ‘Can we talk about who plays opposite me? Have you thought about Colin Firth? Because I could get the script to him.’ Of course, I said, ‘That would be amazing,thanks very much.’ And Stanley said, ‘Good, because I gave it to him yesterday, and he read it and loves it, and he wants to meet you.’” Firth and Tucci have been friends since they met on the set of the 2001 film Conspiracy. As Tucci recently said in Entertainment Weekly of his 20-year relationship with Firth: “Our love for each other, our respect for each other, that intimacy was already there. When you have a really good friend, it’s like a lover. You know a lot about each other, things that other people don’t know — things that even spouses don’t know — and that makes you incredibly close.”

FEBRUARY 2021| @theragemonthly 15

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