Sustainable Nourishment: Our Review of ‘The Sense of An Ending’

Posted in Movies, Theatrical by - March 16, 2017
Sustainable Nourishment: Our Review of ‘The Sense of An Ending’

The very nature of storytelling is to have a beginning, middle and an end.  You’d think that would be simple but even in the best intentioned of stories simple things like this can get lost along the way.  The Sense Of An Ending is one of those nice little movies that grabs you with a solid hook from the start and has an emotionally satisfying ending…you just wish it hadn’t taken so damn long to get there.

We meet Tony Webster (Jim Broadbent) who leads a reclusive and quiet existence; divorced from his wife, helping his single pregnant daughter and toiling away in his tiny little vintage camera shop, happy with the routine of his life.  However all that changes when a letter he receives sparks a chain of events that uncover a myriad of long buried secrets from his past that force him to face the flawed recollections of his younger self.  Coming to grips with the truth about his first love (Charlotte Rampling) and the devastating consequences of decisions made a lifetime ago.

While The Sense Of An Ending is an engaging and strong story about the hubris of youth and the consequences that can come of it, the second act and good chunks of the first and third acts were just spinning its wheels a little too much with little too no drama before we reached the expected but no less satisfying ending.

Director Ritesh Batra’s follow up to the delightful The Lunchbox lacks the more personal touch of his previous films to be sure as feels like a competent, yet hired hand to tell the story.  Based on the novel by Julian Barnes and adapted to the screen by Nick Payne this entire thing plays fairly modestly and maybe a little more so then it actually should.  Batra does manage to allow us to embrace how fragile and unintentionally slippery memory can be, especially in the later years of life and it works well enough but it never goes for the jugular of anything too emotionally devastating.  It feels like a film design for your mother and grandmother to just take in, appreciate but honestly forget almost immediately.  Everything felt very competent from beginning to end which was actually a bit of a surprise considering the pedigree of the two leads in the film.

Jim Broadbent carries his end of the story with ease and aplomb, diving back and forth between a character potentially filled with regret and a goofy old guy who can’t help but lovingly talk about the two lesbians in his daughter’s pre-natal classes.  He gives us gravitas and emotion while still wrapped up in the shell of a proper British man who knows his best days have passed him by and wants to make sure that he didn’t do too much damage along his way as a self assured young man on the rise in the upper classes of England.  Sadly Charlotte Rampling was barely used (at least comparatively to Broadbent) and they just didn’t get enough traction together to make some memorable moments.  Harriet Walker and Michelle Dockery gave some very solid support to Broadbent as he moved the narrative along while the likes of Matthew Goode and Emily Mortimer who are fine, also felt over cast and a little out of place at the same time.

At the end of the day, there is nothing wrong with The Sense Of An Ending as it all plays out in a satisfactory manner.  However it’s hard to avoid the obvious demographic that it is going for as well since it feels like a warm bowl of tomato soup that was given to us by our grandmothers.  It won’t kill us to eat it and make her happy, but it could have used a little spicing up to make us not want to go grab a burger afterwards.

This post was written by
David Voigt, has been a lover of cinema all his life and an actual underpaid critic for a solid 5 years covering everything that the city of Toronto has to offer. He was a content manager in video distribution industry before that and his love of all things cinema goes back to his first moments in awe looking up at the big screen. His 12 years of experience on the home entertainment side of the business have provided him with a unique view on what is worth spending your hard earned entertainment dollars on. Combine that with his unquestioned love of film, David should be your only stop to find out about the best in film, not only in Toronto, but worldwide.