Frances Winston really enjoyed this story-based film, even though she felt it was just a tad too long
Directed by: Ritesh Batra – Starring: Jim Broadbent, Charlotte Rampling, Harriet Walter, Emily Mortimer, Billy Howle
It is refreshing to see actors of Jim Broadbent’s and Charlotte Rampling’s generation fronting a movie in what has become a very youth-centric business, and seeing their names on the posters guarantees a certain calibre of performance.
With actors this good, it is a safe assumption that the focus here is on the storytelling, and that is indeed the case. At the very beginning, we are introduced to Broadbent’s Tony Webster, who starts explaining his life to us.
He seems to live a pretty ordinary existence. He’s on good terms with his ex-wife, Margaret (Walter), his thirty-something daughter, Susie, is expecting her first child, and he potters his way through his retirement, running a shop that sells and repairs classic cameras.
However, when he receives a letter informing him that someone he once knew has died, and remembered him in their will, it fuels many memories of his youth. As he reconnects with his past, he is forced to question the rose-tinted hue with which he remembered things, and the reality of events, and face up to his part in certain events.
Based on the Booker prize-winning novel, Batra takes the time-hopping approach to tell this tale, and we are transported back to the 1960s, where we see younger Tony (Howle) making the decisions that will have far-reaching repercussions.
Meanwhile, in the present day, Tony is trying to explain the events to his ex-wife, while tracking down a former flame for some answers.
While this is a tried and tested storytelling method, the younger actors in the flashback scenes simply do not have the acting chops of their older selves, and it shows. If we weren’t seeing them side by side, they would be perfectly fine actors, but Broadbent, Rampling, et al literally act them off the screen. I could cheerfully just have watched Jim Broadbent tell the story for the entire duration of the movie.
This aside, the story is not as sweet and gentle as you’d expect when you first meet the curmudgeonly Tony. By the end of the tale, you realise that he is only human, and there are one or two twists along the way that show him at his best, and his absolute worst. Indeed, he runs pretty much the entire gamut of humanity. This is down to some lovely and well-paced writing from Nick Payne. You do find yourself wanting to know more about what happened to him in his youth, that had such a far-reaching effect.
This is a nice movie, and does manage to engage. I absolutely enjoyed every scene with Broadbent in it.
The Sense of an Ending is somewhat too long at around two hours, and there is a lot of repetition of the flashback scenes. It’s as if Batra doesn’t trust the audience to have remembered them on their own.
It is refreshing, however, to see a film that relies purely on the story, and the performances, and no gimmicks, and it is a nice distraction to the slew of computer game adaptations, and action flicks, we usually get at this time of year.
The Sense of an Ending is also an absolute acting tour-de-force, and worth a look for that alone.
In Cinemas April 14th! See Trailer Below: