A long-term couple faces the heart-breaking reality of mental decline in this warm yet confronting drama.
Colin Firth and Stanley Tucci play Sam and Tusker, a British concert pianist and an American novelist who have been together for 20 years. Tusker has been diagnosed with early onset dementia and the pair want to enjoy the time they have left so they decide to take a road trip through rural England in their old campervan. Throughout the journey they will visit locations that mean a lot to them and spend time with family and old friends, culminating in a big surprise party.
Sam has no illusions about Tusker's worsening condition, but he hasn't realised the extent of his partner's resolve.
Firth and Tucci are both acting legends and effortlessly project a familiar chemistry with each other that leans into each performer's strengths, which is all the more impressive considering the actors switched roles at the last minute.
Firth's cardigan game is on-point as the soft-spoken, mannered Sam while Tucci gets to have a little more fun as the prickly, witty Tusker. It is rarely less than a joy to simply spend time in their company.
When the essential conflict of the film comes to a head, much of it remains unspoken, and it is resolved with remarkably little discussion. In lesser actors' hands, this may have been frustrating, but with Firth and Tucci at the helm, unseen depths in Sam and Tusker's relationship are felt that allow the movie to proceed through its central thesis with surprising briskness.
That briskness doesn't extend to the lasting emotional impact of the film, which lives up to the titular metaphor referring to how we are all made up of material from stars that exploded millions of years ago.
Cast: Stanley Tucci, Colin Firth, James Dreyfus
Director: Harry Macqueen
Running time: 93 minutes.
Rating: M (Offensive language)
Verdict: A gently affecting ode to love, devotion and compassion. And cardigans.