Director / Ritesh Batra (THE LUNCHBOX)
Stars/ Jim Broadbent, Billy Howle, Freya Mavor, Harriet Walter, Michelle Dockery and Charlotte Rampling
The deal being brokered by THE SENSE OF AN ENDING is that it does not want you to gain too much of a sense of its own ending until the final scenes. So until then, it occasionally musters a feeling of mild anticipation, which is often replaced by growing impatience.
Based on the novel of the same name by Julian Barnes, THE SENSE OF AN ENDING is about an elderly man who curiously revisits his past after receiving an unexpected letter in the mail. Tony Webster (Jim Broadbent) is divorced, a bit of a curmudgeon and runs his own shop in London, selling old cameras. Quite set in his ways and yet to adapt to the modernistic way of life, Tony is given an opportunity to pursue a truth that remains unknown, which challenges his characteristics in the process, after reading the letter.
In 2016, there was another film that compelled its lead character to delve deeply into the past, triggered by the arrival of an unexpected, yet more shocking letter. That film, which is a personal favourite of mine from last year is 45 YEARS and also starred Charlotte Rampling, who received a well-deserved Oscar-nomination for her breathtaking performance. Unfortunately for THE SENSE OF AN ENDING, 45 YEARS is far superior to this far too slow and regularly boring film.
Tony has a story to tell. The kind of story that you wish would just eliminate some detail and cut to the chase. The very patient person that is tasked with listening is his ex-wife Margaret (Harriet Walter from TV series The Crown), told in present day. Each time the recollection of his memories are vocalised, this movie takes audiences back many years to Tony’s youth, as a teenager in high school (played by Billy Howle). Something in that letter has triggered thoughts of the first relationship Tony began to form, with a flirty fellow classmate named Veronica (TV Series Skins star, Freya Mavor). THE SENSE OF AN ENDING does boast strong characterisation and it does also have its reasons for delaying the revelation of secrets it is harbouring. Once all is said and done, this film is less than satisfying. Mostly because it struggles to really convince, attributed in part to its clunky arrangement and untidy writing, which become too visible to disregard.
If this challenging wait does end up being worthwhile for you, you can thank the sterling performance from Jim Broadbent and the heavily delayed appearance of Charlotte Rampling.
2 ½ stars
Viewer Discretion/ M (mature themes, sex scenes and coarse language)
Trailer / THE SENSE OF AN ENDING
Moviedoc thanks Roadshow Films for the in-season pass to see and review this film.
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