“Don’t let’s ask for the moon,” says Bette Davis in Now Voyager, “we have the stars.”
A similar sentiment underpins Supernova (12A), in which Sam (Colin Firth), a pianist, and Tusker (Stanley Tucci), an author and amateur astronomer, set out on a road trip through the English countryside in their battered camper van.
As the pair gently bicker their way north to the Lake District, we realise that Tusker is suffering from the early stages of dementia, and that he has no intention of becoming a burden on Sam.
Written and directed by Harry Macqueen, Supernova offers a story that is as stark and multi-faceted as the Lake District’s autumn landscape: the story is relatively straightforward and moves inexorably to a conclusion that seems preordained, but the performances are exquisitely nuanced as the couple explores the ramifications of Tusker’s momentous decision.
And yet it’s a film that’s almost entirely devoid of affectation, and particularly when Tusker and Sam find themselves alone, when their conversation, as befits a couple who have been together for decades, often leaves much unsaid, there being no need to waste words on feelings that have become intrinsic to who they are.
From the bravura opening shot, when a static shot of a star-studded night sky gives way to a pair of clasped hands, Supernova is a delicately constructed paean to a love that seems to defy the impossibly vast emptiness of an indifferent universe. It isn’t a two-hander per se — the middle section finds Tusker and Sam visiting Sam’s sister Lilly (Pippa Heywood) for what Sam only belatedly realises is Tusker’s farewell party — but it’s impossible to take your eyes off Colin Firth and Stanley Tucci, both of whom deliver superb performances in which the focus on the subtlest of emotional interactions says more about the enduring power of love than a thousand blockbusters ever could. (cinema release)
From the sublime to the ninth instalment in the Fast & Furious franchise, F9: the Fast Saga (12A), which opens with the unorthodox former spy Dom (Vin Diesel) dragged out of retirement when his boss, Mr Nobody (Kurt Russell), sends out an SOS.
Soon Dom and his team are roaring into action in Central America, where Dom discovers that his younger brother Jakob (John Cena) is now ‘a super-spy with his own private army’ who has set his sights on ‘a weapon so dangerous it shouldn’t exist for another half-century.’
What follows provides plenty of entertainment for those viewers old enough to remember the tongue-in-cheek adventures of The A-Team, as Dom, Letty (Michelle Rodriguez), Roman (Tyrese Gibson) and Tej (Ludacris) burn serious rubber in a globe-trotting yarn that takes them to Cologne, Tbilisi, Tokyo, London and Edinburgh in a relentless series of death-defying escapades, the most improbable of which, arguably, is the sight of Helen Mirren leading London’s Bobbies a merry dance in a purple super-car.
Fans of the franchise will likely enjoy playing spot-the-cameo, with Charlize Theron, Lucas Black and Michael Rooker all popping up to keep the party going; meanwhile, the director, Justin Lin, back in the canvas chair for the first time since the sixth film in the franchise, puts the pedal to the metal and never lets up.
All of which means it’s very fast and never less than furious, and wholly ridiculous, as it’s intended to be: were F9 an hour shorter than its 145-minute running time, it might even have been great fun. (cinema release)
Based on a best-selling memoir, Fatherhood (12A) stars Kevin Hart as Matt Loeglin, whose wife Liz (Deborah Ayorinde) dies the day after giving birth to their daughter Maddy (Melody Hurd). His mother Anna (Thedra Porter) and mother-in-law Marion (Alfre Woodard) both agree that Matt should hand Maddy over to one of them, but Matt is adamant: he’s going to raise Maddy alone.
Aided and abetted by his friends Jordan (Lil Rey Howery) and Oscar (Anthony Carrigan), Matt does his best, but quickly discovers — who knew? — that single parenthood ain’t easy. Co-written by Dana Stevens and Paul Weitz, with Weitz directing, Fatherhood is a charming account of the travails of a man raising a daughter on his own, and one that benefits hugely from the palpable chemistry between Kevin Hart and the young Melody Hurd, who riff off one another’s quirks and frequently seem to ad-lib whole scenes. By turns schmaltzy and sweet, sentimental and poignant, the story is frequently undermined by Hart’s inability to dial back his shouty-comic schtick; that said, his scenes with Alfre Woodard, as Matt and Marion learn to grieve together, are the most sombre and moving in the whole movie.
The result is an uneven but amiable testament to one man’s desire to do the right thing.