The Sense Of An Ending
March 23, 2017
The Sense Of An
Ending (** ½) PG-13
Sometimes watching skilled actors at the top of their game and doing what they do best is enough to make a movie of otherwise questionable merit somewhat palatable. I was reminded of that once again the other night while the experience of watching the novel to film translation The Sense of an Ending washed over me. When it’s all said and done the movie doesn’t add up to much. It’s the kind of thing that, for the majority of its running time, tantalizes the audience with the buildup to a big plot reveal during its final act. The unveiling of the mysteries of the story, once they arrive, turn out to be underwhelming to say the least. Ah, but sometimes the journey is better than the destination and with these actors at work it’s a nice journey indeed.
Jim Broadbent, that veteran British actor with the unmistakable gleam in his eye, has been a favorite of mine for years. Whenever he turns up on screen he manages to elevate even the most mundane material to a higher level, such are his talents.
Charlotte Rampling & Jim Broadbent in ‘Sense’
Here he embodies the character of Tony Webster, a retiree who now runs a shop specializing in rare cameras as a way to both supplement his income and kill the boredom of his days. Tony lives alone, having been served divorce papers years ago by his former wife, Margaret (Harriet Walter, every bit as good as Broadbent here) who obviously put more energy into the marriage than Tony did.
In the film’s opening scenes, Tony seems to be contented with his daily routine of running his camera shop during the day and spending his nights alone, save for the occasional get together with old friends and sometimes assisting his pregnant daughter in her childbirth classes. All of this changes when Tony receives information that he has been bequeathed the diary of a former college pal who romanced the same girl as Tony and eventually took his own life. We see in flashbacks that the suicide of Tony’s friend may quite possibly be due to a venomous letter that Tony penned in the aftermath of losing what he believes was the love of his life.
The great Charlotte Rampling shows up as Tony’s former love in the second half of the film but her presence is somewhat limited, which is a shame since I’d have preferred for her to have more screen time. It all leads to a finale that isn’t much of a mystery at all and will come as a surprise to hardly anyone.
The Sense of an Ending is based on the well regarded novel by Julian Barnes, which I’m told is quite an intriguing read. As directed by Ritesh Batra, who also directed the much better 2013 film The Lunchbox, all suspense is thrown by the wayside in favor of the humanistic aspects of the story. Sometimes this works but ultimately the film aspires to be more profound than it actually is able to deliver.
The Sense of an Ending is, at press time, playing at the Regal Manor Twin in Charlotte.
Questions or comments? Write Adam at email@example.com.