The Sense of an Ending

6.3 IMDb
2 January 2017 Release
Genres:Drama, Mystery
14 Votes

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Divorced and retired, Tony Webster, an ageing Londoner and vintage camera shop owner, whittles down the solitude of his isolated existence by keeping an affectionate relationship with his ex-wife, Margaret, and by accompanying his nearly full-term pregnant daughter, Susie, to antenatal courses. However, the unexpected arrival of an unsettling letter will disrupt the fine balance of things in Tony's orderly life, reconnecting him with his first love from college, Veronica, and the nostalgic, yet clouded memories of a distant past. Inevitably, as Tony scavenges for bits and pieces through flashbacks, the out-of-focus picture of his youth will gradually sharpen, nevertheless, is he ready to face the truth?

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Movie Comments

  1. CineMuseFilms, 1 week ago
    Everyone is a storyteller in their own way. Some use the big screen, others a book or a painter's canvas, but most of us tell stories to ourselves. In 1967, acclaimed literary theorist Professor Frank Kermode published a seminal book called The Sense of an Ending: Studies in the Theory of Fiction. He argued that we all internally write the fictions of our lives into a coherent pattern so things appear to have a logical beginning, a middle and an ending. We do this for one simple reason: to make it possible to "coexist with temporal chaos" and to "humanise the common death". This philosophical insight inspired the 2011 Julian Barnes novel of the same name that is now adapted in the film The Sense of an Ending (2017). Joining these dots help us to understand what this film is about.

    The film plot is simple but the story complex. Retired divorcée Tony (Jim Broadbent) is known as a curmudgeon by his ex-wife Margaret (Harriet Walter) and daughter Suzie (Michelle Dockery). He busies himself in his tiny shop selling second-hand Leica cameras when one day a lawyer's letter arrives that reopens memories of his first love. What follows is a jigsaw of glimpses into an old man's obsessive quest for redemption as he becomes haunted by an act of spite that he believes led to the suicide of his best friend. When he renews contact with his first love Veronica (Charlotte Rampling) he must confront unresolved emotions that were buried beneath the fictions he has constructed about his life.

    This slow and serious film is not for everyone. Younger people are too busy making memories to be rewriting the story of their lives. Older audiences will recognise what Tony is experiencing and empathise with his need for a 'sense of an ending'. Despite the film's stellar cast and fine acting, none of the characters are especially likable, so it is possible to leave this film disengaged with the people while having been thoroughly immersed in the story. This is a well-directed dialogue-driven film. Its multiple flashbacks capture the disjointed half recalled fragments that many of us store as life memories. Most of all, it is an introspective and insightful essay on how we make sense of our lives.
  2. Red-125, 1 week ago
    The English film The Sense of an Ending (2017) was directed by Ritesh Batra. This excellent movie has an all-star cast. Jim Broadbent portrays Tony Webster, a divorced man who is technically retired, but who runs a camera repair shop that specializes in Leica cameras. Dame Harriet Walter plays Margaret Webster, his divorced wife. They have a grown daughter Susie (Michelle Dockery) who is a pregnant, partner-less lesbian. Charlotte Rampling plays Veronica Ford. She holds a secret that is the key to a critical moment in Tony's life that took place 50 years earlier.

    Jim Broadbent is one of the greatest actors of the late 20th and early 21st Century. I've seen him in many films, and he always inhabits his role as if he were, indeed, that person. Dame Margaret Webster is a fine actor, and has appeared in dozens of movies and made-for-TV specials. However, I think the only time I've seen her on screen was as the vile Fanny Dashwood in Sense and Sensibility (1995). She does a highly professional job as a embittered woman, whose life is absorbed by her business interests.

    Michelle Dockery looks as if she just changed costumes and walked into this movie from Downton Abbey. She is always angry and depressed. For the record, her part is small and non-central in this film. I think she wants to broaden her range, but that didn't happen here. Could she ever star in a comedy?

    Charlotte Rampling was one of the most beautiful women in movies. At age 70, she still is one of the most beautiful women in movies. She is not only beautiful, but she is a consummate actor who is made for this role.

    This film is complicated. About 75% of it takes place in present time, and about 20% takes place in flashback. (The other 5% are dream and imaginary scenes, when the present enters into the past.) You'll have to pay close attention or you'll miss the point. In fact, during the middle of the film, I missed the point. However, towards the end, it all came together and made sense.

    (Incidentally, there's a tedious sequence in the beginning, when Tony gets a certified letter, and he almost opens it, then he sort of opens it, then he opens it and doesn't read it, and finally, finally reads it. The letters starts off the entire plot, so he needs to read it, and we need to know what it says. That's the only weak part of the movie.)

    We saw this film at the excellent Little Theatre in Rochester, NY. Even though it's meant to be seen on the large screen, it will work well on the small screen. This movie has a ridiculously low IMDb rating of 6.5. It's much better than that. This is one of those ratings that you have to ignore. Don't miss this movie just because it's rated so low.

    P.S. Relevant to The Sense of an Ending: The Moving Finger writes; and, having writ, Moves on: nor all thy Piety nor Wit. Shall lure it back to cancel half a Line, Nor all thy Tears wash out a Word of it." From the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam.
  3. Dave McClain, 1 week ago
    We all reminisce. Older people have more to mull over than their younger counterparts, but we all do it. To what extent are our memories accurate representations of what actually happened? And how do the things that we forget, choose to leave out or just misremember affect how we view our past – and our present? These are the kind of questions the British drama "The Sense of Ending" (PG-13, 1:48) so eloquently and engagingly poses. Based on the 2011 novel of the same name by famed British author Julian Barnes (who won the prestigious Man Booker Prize for the book), this film has the potential to entertain all Movie Fans – and give them plenty to think about, regardless where they are in their lives, but those contemplations will vary depending on the stage of life they occupy at the moment.

    Tony Webster (Jim Broadbent) is a disagreeable, semi-retired 70-something curmudgeon living in London. He used to make his living as a doctor, but now he owns a small vintage camera shop. Tony is long divorced from Margaret Webster (Harriet Walker), but they remain quite friendly, mutually supporting their pregnant single daughter, Susie (Michelle Dockery from TV's "Downton Abbey"), and sometimes meeting to discuss their lives over a spot of tea. Obviously comfortable (if not entirely happy) living out the narrative of his life (as he sees it), Tony is about to be shaken out of his complacency.

    Dr. Webster receives a letter informing him that he has been bequeathed an old diary by the recently departed mother of his college girlfriend. Questions abound. Tony wants to know whose diary it is. When he tells his ex-wife about the letter, she's curious why the mother of a long-lost love would be leaving him anything in her will. As Tony struggles with the family's lawyer to get his hands on the diary (or at least get some answers), he begins telling Margaret stories from a past that he has never before shared. She gets frustrated when she senses that he isn't telling her the whole story, while the audience is left to wonder what he's leaving out, why he's leaving things out and if he even realizes he's doing it.

    Tony's story slowly unfolds (and is later revisited and built upon) in flashbacks throughout the movie. As a young man, Tony (played during his school days and college years by Billy Howle) begins dating the young, fetching and quirky Veronica Ford (Freya Mavor). As they figure out how they really feel about each other and where their relationship is going, Tony spends a weekend at her family's country cottage, where Tony hits it off with Veronica's mother, Sarah (Emily Mortimer). Eventually (not a spoiler – it's in the theatrical trailer), young Tony's best friend, the very intelligent but very maudlin Adrian Finn (Joe Alwyn) emerges as a rival for Veronica's affections. As a mystery unravels both in old Tony's rearview mirror and in his present, he finds old Veronica (Charlotte Rampling) and demands answers.

    "The Sense of an Ending" is a relatable, entertaining and thought-provoking character-driven drama. This impressive collection of English thespians all give heart-felt and layered performances, while Nick Payne's script and Ritesh Batra's direction sensitively and insightfully develop the story, but still leave room for individual interpretations. How a person sees this film will have as much to do with his or her age, perceptions and individual experiences as the story itself. And when all is said and done, the film's ending still leaves room for discussion among Movie Fans. Rather than a clearly defined ending, we get… the sense of an ending. Or is it a beginning? It's for each of you to decide for yourselves. Getting there does require you to go along for the ride on a slow-moving cinematic train, but it's well worth the journey – especially since you may be surprised where you end up. "A-"