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Colin Firth, left, and Stanley Tucci play a couple travelling through England's Lake District after Tucci's character is diagnosed with early-onset dementia in Harry Macqueen's Supernova.

Bleecker Street / Courtesy of Mongrel Media

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  • Supernova
  • Written and directed by Harry Macqueen
  • Starring Colin Firth and Stanley Tucci
  • Classification R; 94 minutes

On paper, Supernova sounds like it was conceived deep inside a meme generator.

Colin Firth and Stanley Tucci, two real-life best friends and impossibly charming human beings and internet-celebrated renaissance men, play lovers. But wait: One of them (that’d be Tucci’s character) is dying. And not of cancer or some done-to-umm-death disease, but of early-onset dementia. A horrible condition, certainly. But one that does have a way of tugging at even a cynic’s not-easily-tuggable heartstrings. And one that has proven to be Oscar bait in the not-so-recent past (see Julianne Moore in 2015′s Still Alice).

Story continues below advertisement

Stanley Tucci, the internet’s boyfriend ... and Colin Firth’s, too, at least on-screen

This isn’t to say that writer-director Harry Macqueen’s drama is a cynically conceived one – just that it happens to tick all the boxes of a presumed social-media sensation. And that, despite those elements, it doesn’t quite equate to unmissable work.

Tucci and Firth are, not surprisingly, wonderful in their respective roles: Tucci as the novelist Tusker who can no longer figure out how to write, Firth as the pianist Sam who can only sit back and watch the love of his life increasingly get lost in the fog. Their natural chemistry as friends translates to a deeply watchable on-screen pairing. But Macqueen’s sometimes lovely, sometimes overly polite drama relies a lot on its casting.

By the time Tusker and Sam reach the end of the road – both metaphorical and literal, as this is as much a travelogue of England’s Lake District – Supernova feels less like a film to cherish and more a tweet to favourite.

Supernova is available on-demand, including Apple TV/iTunes and Inside Out’s Digital Cinema, starting Feb. 16

In the interest of consistency across all critics’ reviews, The Globe has eliminated its star-rating system in film and theatre to align with coverage of music, books, visual arts and dance. Instead, works of excellence will be noted with a critic’s pick designation across all coverage. (Television reviews, typically based on an incomplete season, are exempt.)

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