The Sense of an Ending (NC16)
Starring Jim Broadbent, Charlotte Rampling, Harriet Walter
Directed by Ritesh Batra
A British divorced retiree living a reclusive life in London is unexpectedly bequeathed the diary of a former schoolmate.
The Sense of an Ending is an adaptation of the 2011 Man Booker Prize-winning novel by Julian Barnes.
Jim Broadbent brings his humour and rumpled humanity to the curmudgeonly Tony Webster, who is forced to revise his recollections of his younger self (played by Billy Howle) half a century earlier and reckon with the tragic consequences of his actions on a long-ago romance: one involving himself, the aforementioned best friend (Joe Alwyn), his university first love Veronica (Freya Mavor), and Veronica’s mother (Emily Mortimer).
His narrative shifts between his ’60s flashbacks and the present, where Charlotte Rampling makes a late entry as the elusive Veronica with angry recrimination in her eyes.
Harriet Walter and Downton Abbey's Michelle Dockery are also sterling as the ex-wife and the pregnant lesbian daughter: Tony’s relationship with them, too, is re-evaluated in view of his new understanding of his past.
That the final reveal to the central mystery turns out to be not much of a big deal in a slight story doesn’t entirely matter. This low-key autumnal drama is about the unreliable subjectivity of memory.
It is Indian director Ritesh Batra’s second feature after charming the world with the 2013 Mumbai rom-com The Lunchbox, and Batra retains his sensitivity to the longing and loneliness of ageing men. (* * *)
Photo: Shaw Organisation