The Sense of an Ending
An adaptation of the Man Booker Prize-winning novel of the same name, The Sense of an Ending is a film that follows its main character, Tony Webster (Jim Broadbent), at two pivotal periods in his life: before the birth of his grandson in modern-day London, and during the blossoming and fallout of his first love as a young man in the 60s. As the older Tony begins to think back on this darker period of his life, it is soon revealed that his memories cannot entirely be trusted.
The movie as a whole is often quite lovely. At once tender and surprisingly funny, The Sense of an Ending achieves far more as a character study than a scandal-driven drama. The “mystery” at the centre of the plot is almost incidental by the end, as what the audience really cares about is Tony’s daily life and family dynamic.
Jim Broadbent is excellent as the initially crotchety protagonist, who navigates life as a semi-retired divorcee with little enthusiasm or charm. Admittedly not an an unconventional role, the actor embodies his character nonetheless and is intensely enjoyable to watch. Even when Tony’s actions veer slightly towards the absurd, Broadbent’s performance grounds the film and makes it almost believable.
It’s possible that the feature could simply be too clever for its own good. The fact that the longer flashback scenes are often overlit and overcooked could easily represent The Sense of an Ending‘s core theme of nostalgia; however, that doesn’t make those scenes any less average, or the characters within any more compelling.
Even though the modern-day scenes are far more effective than most of the flashbacks, viewers can see how these moments, no matter how small, largely informed the man that Tony became, for better or worse. Indeed, the most poignant aspect of the film is the way in which director Ritesh Batra chooses to represent the past’s influence on the present. It is at once subtle and explicit how these blink-and-you’ll-miss-it moments in Tony’s past have echoed throughout his life and made him into the man that he became. To that end, subtlety is this movie’s real triumph. The Sense of an Ending mumbles its way through the essential character development with small gestures and quick cuts to the past, but even so the audience hears every word.
The Sense of an Ending is released nationwide on 14th April 2017.
Watch the trailer for The Sense of an Ending here: