The Sense of an Ending - Laced with gentle humour

We are all unreliable narrators of the past.

Thursday, 13th April 2017, 11:57 am
Updated Tuesday, 9th May 2017, 6:47 pm
Charlotte Rampling as Veronica Ford and Jim Broadbent as Anthony 'Tony' Webster

At the mercy of our vanity, we repeatedly embellish small triumphs until they become glittering false memories and ruthlessly edit down humiliating failures to tolerable footnotes in our personal history.

Elegantly adapted from Julian Barnes' 2011 Booker Prize-winning novel by award-winning British playwright Nick Payne, The Sense Of An Ending is a delicately calibrated drama about a retired father, whose cosy suburban bubble is burst by evidence of a misdeed from his university days.

The past catches up with us all eventually.

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Jim Broadbent as Anthony 'Tony' Webster and Michelle Dockery as Susie Webster

In director Ritesh Batra's elegiac film, this ticking time bomb detonates with devastating force, driving a quietly spoken, unassuming man to stalk an old flame he wronged 50 years earlier.

The narrative oscillates between the two timeframes, piecing together fragmented details into a mosaic of regret and atonement.

Oscar winner Jim Broadbent is the film's emotional core, delivering a subtle, nuanced performance that radiates calm when events around him seem to be spiralling out of control.

He meticulously exposes chinks in his character's brittle armour.

Freya Mavor as Young Veronica Ford and Billy Howle as Young Tony Webster

When he plaintively informs his ex-wife (Harriet Walter), "I'm not an entirely redundant member of this family yet", his sadness and self-pity are palpable.

Anthony Webster (Broadbent) spends lazy days behind the counter of his vintage camera shop and long lunch breaks with ex-wife Margaret (Walter), with whom he is on amicable terms.

Their daughter Susie (Michelle Dockery) is heavily pregnant and Anthony attends antenatal classes in place of her partner.

Out of the blue, he receives a letter from a solicitor to inform him that Sarah Ford (Emily Mortimer), mother of his one-time girlfriend Veronica (Charlotte Rampling), has left him a treasure in her will.

Jim Broadbent as Anthony 'Tony' Webster and Michelle Dockery as Susie Webster

The bequest turns out to be the diary of his school chum Adrian Finn (Joe Alwyn), who committed suicide at university after he became one point of a messy love triangle with Anthony and Veronica.

Reluctantly, Anthony harks back to his adolescence when he fell head over heels for the young Veronica (Freya Mavor) and holidayed with her family.

"You can pee into the basin at night if you wish," jokes Veronica's father David (James Wilby), showing young Anthony (Billy Howle) around his room.

Frustrated by Veronica's cool detachment and her reluctance to commit, Anthony yearns for reassurance.

Freya Mavor as Young Veronica Ford and Billy Howle as Young Tony Webster

"Does it have to head somewhere, our relationship?" responds Veronica, sowing the seeds of jealousy and rejection that will sprout bitter, poisonous fruit.

The Sense Of An Ending is constructed on the solid foundation of Barnes' novel.

The impetuosity of hormone-addled youth in flashbacks contrasts with the weary resignation of retirement, laced with gentle humour, like when one of elderly Anthony's friends gleefully asserts that Facebook "is a boon for us widowers".

The steady tick tock of time heals most wounds, but selective reminisce is a wonderful balm.


Released: April 14 (UK & Ireland)