The Sense of an Ending

The Sense of an Ending
The Sense of an Ending

Directed by Ritesh Batra
Starring Jim Broadbent, Harriet Walter, Charlotte Rampling, Billy Howle, Freya Mavor, Joe Alwyn, Matthew Goode, Michelle Dockery and Emily Mortimer
On UK DVD & Blu-ray August 14th, 2017
On Digital Download August 7th, 2017
Watch on iTunes or Amazon

by Bernie C. Byrnes

Tony Webster (Jim Broadbent) is the star of his own drama in this (not overly faithful) adaptation of Julian Barnes’ novel of the same name. One day, Webster learns that the mother of his university girlfriend, Veronica (Freya Mavor / Charlotte Rampling) left him the diary of his school friend Adrian (Joe Alwyn) in her will. Webster’s quest to recover the diary forces him to revisit his flawed recollections of his youth and, digging deeper, uncovers deceit, regrets and guilt buried long ago.

Life and death rub shoulders in this beautifully directed tale. Ritesh Batra (who also directed the brilliant The Lunchbox) skillfully facilitates some detailed and knowing intimate exchanges. The chemistry between Broadbent and Harriet Walter (who plays his ex-wife Margaret) are an absolute joy. Michelle Dockery (their heavily pregnant daughter) and Emily Mortimer (Veronica’s late mother Sarah Ford) turn in small but perfectly formed supporting roles. Credit too to Billy Howle (Young Tony) who so convincingly portrays a young Broadbent it’s hard to imagine they are not related (they’re not). For me, Alwyn – who inhabits the old-before-his-time Adrian Finn with a seemingly effortless depth and panache – turned in the standout performance.

Nick Payne’s screenplay is clever, powerful and on point: the careful clues from the classroom that signpost the pitfalls of adult life, the imperfect and embellished repeated flashbacks, the history that we write for ourselves when we are the winner, are all skillfully executed.

So why the three stars? The ending. This is a tense 100 minutes with such a squib of an ending that it leaves the viewer wondering what all that fuss was about. I’m pretty sure this is intentional (the folks who made this film are too smart to fall at the final hurdle), but like Waiting for Godot where nothing happens because the point is nothing happens, The Sense of an Ending feels like a whole lot of fuss about nothing.



 

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