Film critic Josh Bell has two emotional picks in this week's Bell Breakdown.
This weekend calls for a couple of old-fashioned tearjerkers, starting with SUPERNOVA, now playing in theaters. Colin Firth and Stanley Tucci play a gay couple who've been together for many years, and are taking a road trip to visit some of their favorite places and see old friends. One of them is suffering from early-onset dementia, so this is sort of a farewell tour before he's no longer able to remember the people and places he loves. Both actors give excellent performances, Stanley Tucci as the man who realizes he's losing the sharp mind he takes for granted, and Colin Firth as the partner who's afraid of being left behind. There are emotionally devastating moments, but Supernova isn't overly manipulative, and it aims for quiet sadness over melodrama. Supernova is now playing in local theaters, and will be available February 16 for video on demand rental.
A bit broader and more predictable is the drama PALMER, now streaming on Apple TV Plus. Justin Timberlake plays the title character, a former college football star just released from a 12-year stretch in prison. He returns to his Louisiana hometown, where he forms a bond with his neighbor, a nine-year-old boy named Sam, who dresses in bright colors and loves princesses. Justin Timberlake tones down some of his natural charisma to play the brooding, macho Palmer, who becomes a father figure to Sam, protecting him from bullies and from his volatile home life. There's nothing surprising about the story, but the characters are engaging and easy to root for, and the message of tolerance is welcome. That's Palmer, now on Apple TV Plus.