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Movie Reviews

Posted at: May 19, 2017, 6:47 PM; last updated: May 19, 2017, 6:47 PM (IST)MOVIE REVIEW - THE SENSE OF AN ENDING

Union Of memorable endings

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Union Of memorable endings
A still from The Sense of an Ending

Johnson Thomas

Sterling cast features in an adaptation of a novel, The Sense of an Ending, by Julian Barnes who won Man Booker Prize. Also, there’s an underlying British humour that makes for a potent combination here. The film that goes by the same name as the novel it is adapted from, is about returning to the past (decades earlier) hoping to find a closure; and, it’s quite riveting.

The performances are all methodically restrained, ageing is central to the theme, and the humour at play here makes that element quite irreverent. But, it’s the central mystery (doesn’t seem like one for most of the run though), that really hits you when you are least expecting it.

Barnes’ 2011 novel was a gripping page turner and Ritesh Batra’s film, based on a script by Nick Payne, uses a non-linear mode to convey the mystery and hedonistic preoccupations of yesteryears. It’s like a memory revisited, where the deeper you get, the easier it becomes to fit all puzzling pieces that hitherto didn’t seem to fit in.

Tony Webster (Jim Broadbent), the divorced owner of a small shop that fixes and resells Leica cameras is a man given to being too ‘particular’. He lives a lonely life and his contact with his lesbian daughter (Michelle Dockery) and ex-wife (Harriet Walter) is need-based.

One day, he receives a letter from a solicitor regarding bequeath made to him by a friend’s mother Sara (Emily Mortimer). That triggers the memories of the past and those self-centred preoccupations that might have caused great devastation—more times than he can remember. Batra first establishes Webster’s loneliness and then sets out to lend him a mystery to solve for himself. In the process, his ex-wife and daughter get to know him more. The memories trace their way back in 60s where a young Tony (Billy Howle) and Sara’s beautiful daughter Veronica (Freya Mavor) and Charlotte Rampling get involved in a relationship before it all gets murkier. The intrigue sets in following the entry of Adrian Finn (Joe Alwyn) in their lives.

Cinematographer Christopher Ross manages to convey a warm, yet hauntingly playful mood in the scenes of the past while employing a heavier grey candour to the scenes from contemporary London. The narrative efficiently shuffles through the past allowing for Webster’s progression from a lonely and cranky old man to the one who is forced to look back and realise his fallibility in the scheme of life. That confrontation allows him to come to terms with his present reality. 

Batra’s film is a rare subliminal experience with ethics, politics, aesthetics, poetry, and philosophy rendered in the past, speaking quite profoundly of the human predicament today. This is definitely a film that should not be missed!

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