The Sense of an Ending – a movie review by Roz Tarszisz

May 16, 2017 by Roz Tarszisz
Read on for article

British actors can do grumpy old men really well, and the protagonist here is very good at it.

The unreliability of memory in the way we remember our own history is the theme of this offering from director Ritesh Batra (The Lunchbox).  Beautifully adapted from the prize-winning novel by Julian Barnes, it’s about lost love and unintended consequences.

Lovers of the book will probably enjoy its deconstruction of memory but it left me somewhat cool.

Tony (Jim Broadbent) is in his 60s. He lives a quiet and reclusive existence when a blast from the past comes back to haunt him.  He receives a letter from Sarah (Emily Mortimer) a woman he knew long ago. The covering letter indicates Sarah has died and he has been left a diary but her daughter Veronica (Charlotte Rampling) is reluctant to part with it.

Determined to obtain what is legally his, Tony sets off to get to the bottom of the matter. He dated young Veronica (Freya Mavor) at university but is perplexed as to why he has been left the diary. It was written by his close school friend Adrian (Joe Alwyn) who had committed suicide many years before.

Switching between the two eras, and told from Tony’s perspective, we follow young Tony (Billy Howle) at school and when he meets Veronica at university.

Although long divorced from Margaret (Harriet Walter), who can handle his grumpiness, they have a fairly amicable relationship, impending grand parenthood being the catalyst.  After the baby is born his daughter Susie (Michelle Dockery) tells him that his grandfather name will be Mudge –  because he is a curmudgeon – and that made perfect sense.

It is to Margaret that he recounts his efforts to meet up with Veronica.  She is astounded to learn of his youthful hijinks because she hadn’t heard any of it while they were together.  We don’t realise the importance of that revelation until later.

With good performances all round, the denouement  is revealed slowly.    It seems that Tony was an unreliable and secondary source material of his own life but he is happier, and maybe a better person, by the end.

3/5 Rated M  2017 106mins Released May 25

Starring Jim Broadbent, Charlotte Rampling, Harriet Walter, Emily Mortimer, Michelle Dockery

Directed by Ritesh Batra

Screenplay by Nick Payne

From the book The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes

Music by Max Richter


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