The Sense of an Ending

Review by David Jenkins @daveyjenkins

Directed by

Ritesh Batra

Starring

Charlotte Rampling Harriet Walter Jim Broadbent

Anticipation.

Director Ritesh Batra’s previous, The Lunchbox, was a total delight…

Enjoyment.

Very well put together, and the cast clearly believe in the material.

In Retrospect.

Amounts to: Isn’t Charlotte Rampling great? Which we already knew.

Charlotte Rampling and Jim Broadbent are on typically fine form in this era-spanning drama.

Time will not allow us to forget our first true love, even if it wasn’t entirely reciprocal. In Ritesh Batra’s The Sense of an Ending, adapted from Julian Barnes’ 2011 novel, a figurative message in a bottle comes bobbing to the shore after decades lost at sea. It reminds irritating bourgeois malcontent Tony Webster (Jim Broadbent) of a girl he once knew, and he becomes obsessed with finding out what she’s up to now.

Webster is the sort of guy who signs for a package and ignores the hopeful smiles of the postman. He likes to quaff Merlot with his ex-wife and bicker with his pregnant daughter. Someone has died and he has been left a mysterious document in the will, but it has been seized before he gets to see it. He has a hunch where it came from, but considering his diary is tragically empty (his frou-frou camera repair shop is hardly packing in the customers), he takes a plunge down the rabbit hole.

And the twist is, you really don’t care if he succeeds. Soft focus flashbacks to the genial larks of Cambridge see lovestruck Tony (Billy Howle) attempting to nurture a relationship with wide-eyed coquette Veronica Ford (Freya Mavor), but she’s having none of it. In fact, the story becomes overloaded with intricate sub-plots and hastily-sketched details, to the point where it become extremely difficult to keep tabs on exactly who did what to who and why.

Thematically, the film throws far too much into the pot, to the point where it climaxes on something of an obscure whimper. It talks broadly about the power of memory, the spectre of mortality, the possibility of rebirth and the tragedy of romance, also touching on the idea that what one person might see as a minor indiscretion, another experiences as a life-altering body blow.

Charlotte Rampling turns up very late in the game – her astounding, intense five-minute appearance underscoring how ordinary the rest of the film is.

Published 13 Apr 2017

Tags: Charlotte Rampling Jim Broadbent Ritesh Batra

Anticipation.

Director Ritesh Batra’s previous, The Lunchbox, was a total delight…

Enjoyment.

Very well put together, and the cast clearly believe in the material.

In Retrospect.

Amounts to: Isn’t Charlotte Rampling great? Which we already knew.

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