Julian Barnes’s critically acclaimed novel is brought to life in this emotive film, which makes us question how the stories of our lives are refracted through our singular point of view.
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Tony (Jim Broadbent) receives a letter from a law firm, suggesting an item has been left to him in the estate of his first love’s mother, Sarah (Emily Mortimer). Curious as to what the item could be, his interest only intensifies when he realises that his ex-girlfriend Veronica (Charlotte Rampling) has possession of the item, and is refusing to hand it over.
He shares the story with his ex-wife, a prominent QC, in the hope that she might assure him of his legal rights in the matter. His ex-wife, however, is more focused on why she is hearing of this ex-girlfriend for the first time, and she wonders what he might be not telling her about their past. The mysterious suicide of his once close friend—who later dated his ex-girlfriend—seems to also be haunting him.
But who is really telling the truth?
His ex-wife is more concerned that he is not as connected to the present as he ought to be, especially to their adult daughter (Michelle Dockery)—who has, at 36 and single, elected to become a mother by herself. The strands that hold Tony’s present and his past together are slowly unravelling; but all is not quite as we, the viewer, or indeed Tony, may have come to believe.
The Sense of an Ending grapples with the myopic way we interpret our own life stories, and draws our attention to the complex relationships we have with each other. The message here is an enlightening one: our memories are preserved through our own experiences, but they may not tell the whole truth. And, this skewering of events has consequences; not just in how we see ourselves, but how others might see us.
Attempting to show just how easy it is to get it all so wrong, as well as the cost of fixating on the past instead of enjoying what’s in the present, The Sense of an Ending is a moving film delivered by a stellar cast. And, while it offers a sense of an ending, the truth is it will continue to have you thinking long beyond the final credits.
Director: Ritesh Batra
Stars: Jim Broadbent, Charlotte Rampling, Harriet Walter
Runtime: 1hr 48 mins
Release Date: May 25
Rating: PG 13+
Reviewer Rating: 3/5