The Sense of an Ending movie review: Ritesh Batra's film will extract many emotions from you
Three years after the heartwarming The Lunchbox, director Ritesh Batra returns with another sensitively made film that captures moments like few other contemporary filmmakers do.
The Sense of an Ending is the kind of movie that extracts various emotions out of you – nostalgia, the sense of time having passed, love, despair and longing. It’s the whole package and a film you should not miss.
Based on the Booker prize winning novel of the same name by Julian Barnes, The Sense of an Ending introduces us to Tony (Jim Broadbent), a curmudgeonly old man who sells vintage cameras post retirement.
He and his ex wife (Harriet Walter) are about to become grandparents, but things take a turn when he receives a letter from an old friend Sarah (Emily Mortimer) which states that Sarah has died and has left an item for Tony – a diary. As Tony is taken back to his past we learn about his first girlfriend Veronica, but we soon get the feeling that something not quite right had happened after they had parted ways.
The film uses a flashback technique to delve into Tony’s memories as he tries to piece together the sequence of events after his breakup with Veronica, and the film turns into a mystery of sorts while still retaining the heartwarming and twee ‘Britishness’.
The flashbacks are not as well executed as, say, the way they are in Chris Nolan’s Memento, but the film does a good job of showcasing how a human mind tends to falter constantly, forcing you to remember what you want to believe rather than the actual reality. We are all unreliable narrators that way, and Tony too begins to get lost in his search for the truth.
It’s also a very fun movie to watch thanks to Broadbent’s lovely performance, and his camaraderie with the rest of the cast, particularly with his ex wife Margaret. Chris Ross’ cinematography brings you a picture perfect Britain, again cleverly establishing the visuals as something a man fond of Britain would remember rather than what Britain is actually like. The heightened sense of beauty almost makes you forget how clunky the transitions from the present to the past are.
Not since Tim Burton’s Big Fish has the passage of time in a British film felt so gratifying, and anyone who has dealt with an old person at home will be able to relate to the Tony character in some way.
While it may ever reach the dizzying heights of its source material The Sense of an Ending still works as a lighthearted, sensitively constructed movie and a confirmation of Batra as a major filmmaking talent.
The puzzle established in the film is not hard to crack, but that’s just what makes the film so enjoyable because it is Tony’s journey to unlocking it that matters more. It’s also a wonderful intro to Billy Howle and Freya Mavor who play the younger Tony and Veronica - both actors show tremendous promise and if they make the right choices they could be huge stars soon.