By Ryan Turrin

From writer and director Harry Macqueen (Hinterland) comes Supernova, a heartrending modern love story about a couple struggling with a diagnosis of early-onset dementia who take a road trip together to reconnect with friends, family and places from their past.

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, their lives have had to change. As Tusker’s condition progresses, 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 and every moment they share has a weight it once did not. So, they plan a road trip while Tusker is still able to travel, to see friends and family and revisit memories from their long life together.

While Tusker had once been Sam’s rock, it now falls to Sam to take control, and he is resolved to give his beloved partner as much joy and normalcy as he can muster. But his outer resolve belies an internal struggle to manage that colors their every moment. Meanwhile, Tusker knows that his condition is having an overwhelming effect on both their lives, and that he is beginning to lose control.

As their trip together progresses, their individual ideas for their future begin to collide. Secrets are uncovered, private plans unravel, and their love for each other is tested like never before. Ultimately, they must confront the question of what it means to love one another in the face of Tusker’s incurable illness.

Academy Award winner Colin Firth (The King’s Speech, A Single Man) stars as Sam alongside Academy Award nominee Stanley Tucci (The Lovely Bones, Spotlight) as Tusker. The cast also includes Pippa Haywood (Green Wing) as Lilly, Peter Macqueen as Clive, and James Dreyfus (Notting Hill) as Tim.

“Supernova is a romantic, original, modern love-story. It is an intimate, self-contained tale that investigates some of the biggest human questions of all: how we live and love and laugh, even as we near the end of our time.” writer/director Harry Macqueen.

Sam and Tusker, the characters at the heart of Supernova, emerged from the knowledge Macqueen gained through research, and the people he met informed them, but he was keen not to directly base their journey on any of the stories he heard. “Subliminally, you’re always drawing from your own experiences, but I really try hard not to write characters based on anyone that I know, because I think if you do that the characters have the ability to exist on their own, as unique, fully-formed entities,” he explains.

“To have these two men, (Colin Firth & Stanley Tucci) play these two roles will probably forever be one of the most humbling experiences I’ll have as a director,” Macqueen reflects of his collaboration with Firth and Tucci. “From the first morning we turned over on the film, it was very obvious to everyone that we’d made the right choice, and that these guys were going to take my script and run with it. It was a unique experience, working with them.”

The notion of following a gay couple struck Macqueen early on, and once the decision arrived, it became undeniable. Indeed, dementia does not discriminate, and though cinema has a long and rich history of gay storytelling that directly examines sexuality, Macqueen saw an opportunity with Supernova to reflect a shared experience through the lens of a committed, long-term relationship between two men. “This is a story about the universality of love,” he reflects. “To frame the experience that the characters are going through in the context of a same-sex relationship, and for that sexuality to be ultimately irrelevant to the story they were facing, did feel like an important thing to do. I wanted to normalize what is, of course, a very natural and normal thing, because I don’t think it’s done enough in cinema.” Adds Stanley Tucci, “It’s about two people who love each other, and they happen to be gay. You could easily swap it out for a heterosexual couple, and it wouldn’t matter. But equally, the fact it’s a gay couple adds a whole other element to it that I think is really important for audiences to see.” Tucci continues: “This whole notion that homosexuality is other—I don’t know who came up with that, but it’s certainly lasted a long time, that idea. How could we ever think that love between two gay people is different than love between two straight people? Love is love. That’s it. There’s nothing more to discuss.”

Macqueen agrees, and hopes that for all the darkness and challenge these two characters face in the film, Supernova is an uplifting experience for audiences. “When I look at the work I do, I try to ask myself what kind of gesture the work represents for the world,” he says. “We tried to present a really honest representation of a situation that many people find themselves in. It’s a very difficult place for people to be, but sometimes when you’re on the precipice of something, you find that love is even more beautiful and transcendent than you ever imagined it to be.” He concludes: “I think if the gesture of the film is anything at all, it’s that. It’s about how we can overcome the greatest hurdles by being compassionate and being truthful with one another. I think that’s optimistic. I think that’s deeply romantic.”

Supernova is an original screenplay by Harry Macqueen, who also directs the film. The film is produced by Emily Morgan of Quiddity Films (I Am Not a Witch, Make Up) and Tristan Goligher (45 Years, Only You, Weekend) of the independent filmmaking collective, The Bureau. Morgan initiated development with research and screenwriting support from the Wellcome Trust ( and Quiddity’s BFI Vision Award, before partnering with The Bureau. Financiers are BBC Films and the BFI, awarding National Lottery funding. Executive Producers are Mary Burke, Eva Yates, and Vincent Gadelle. The Bureau Sales are handling international sales on the film, with numerous deals already in place.

Joining Macqueen’s creative team are Academy Award-nominated director of photography Dick Pope (Motherless Brooklyn, Mr. Turner), production designer Sarah Finlay (Ammonite), casting director Shaheen Baig (Everybody’s Talking About Jamie), editor Chris Wyatt (God’s Own Country), and composer Keaton Henson (A Brilliant Young Mind). Bleecker Street will release the film in U.S. theaters on January 29, 2021.