Umm… yeah, so this is a movie. I’m not entirely sure what to make of it. I guess it’s about this old man, who’s confronted with the death of a friend from when he was younger, whose death he might have inadvertently been responsible for after his then girlfriend left him for the friend and he got so mad he wrote a mean letter that… led to him killing himself? Yeah, safe bet to say I didn’t quite follow it, or it’s probably as melodramatic as it looks. But what the hey, it can’t be that bad. I mean, look at the cast!
Speaking of which. Gracing us with his always-welcomed face and talent is Jim Broadbent. Funny how very few seem to actually know his name, but know his face. Luckily, I am your Prophet of Film and Knower of Stuff, so I shall reveal that he’s been in *opens IMDb on my phone* LADY IN THE VAN (2016) and HARRY POTTER AND THE HALF-BLOOD PRINCE (2009). Along side him, we have Charlotte Rampling (ASSASSIN’S CREED ), Harriet Walter (DENIAL  and STAR WARS EPISODE VII: THE FORCE AWAKENS ), Michelle Dockery (SELF/LESS ), Emily Mortimer (HUGO , and will be featured in the upcoming MARY POPPINS RETURNS ) and Joe Alwyn (BILLY LYNN’S LONG HALFTIME WALK ).
Now for the crew. Directing is Ritesh Batra, known for mostly short films. Penning the screenplay is Nick Payne, known for one short and a couple episodes of the TV show THE SECRETS. Composing the music is Max Richter, known for MISS SLOANE (2016). Finally, the cinematographer is Christopher Ross, known for MALICE IN WONDERLAND (2009).
Overall, I can’t say I’m particularly excited to see this movie, but the talent has me somewhat interested. Could be good, but I guess I’ll see for myself pretty soon.
This is my honest opinion of: THE SENSE OF AN ENDING
Tony Webster (Jim Broadbent) is an curmudgeon old man. At least, to everyone else. He’s rather loving to his ex-wife Margaret (Harriet Walter) and his very pregnant daughter Susie (Michelle Dockery). But to everything else, it’s something in his way and beneath his notice. That is, until he receives a letter from someone from his past. In his youth, young Tony (Billy Howle) dated a girl named Veronica (Freya Mavor). But their relationship ended when Veronica left Tony for his then-best-friend, Adrian (Joe Alwyn). In the present, Veronica’s mother dies and left Tony a diary in her will. But the diary is withheld from him by none other than his former flame, a now elderly Veronica (Charlotte Rampling). Desperate to know what was in the diary, he tries everything to convince Veronica to let him have it as it’s his rightful possession.
I think I’m still processing the movie, but let’s see how well my opinion comes across as I write. So far, I can say with absolute certainty that I don’t hate this movie. But I guess I can also safely say that it didn’t leave much of an impression either. Eh, maybe a couple things stood out.
First and foremost, I don’t think I’ve ever seen Broadbent in a starring role before. Most of his career has been strictly support or bit roles, so this was fairly exciting in it’s own right for me. I’m sure he’s been center stage before, but not for any movie I’ve ever heard of, let alone seen. But I gotta say, he carries the film incredibly well and he’s fantastic. In fact, there’s some pretty enjoyable performances all around. Certainly nothing Oscar-worthy, but I’m pretty sure this was meant to be a more mellow kind of movie anyway. Like, I really enjoyed Walter’s performance as the ex-wife. She’s kind of strict and hard on Tony, but it’s not like he doesn’t completely deserve it and you can tell that they do still care about each other, maybe even love. But their relationship and where it goes is left pretty ambiguous, which… I don’t know, I kind of like. Loved ones can separate, but still be not only civil, but love one another. You never really know what exactly split the two apart in the first place, but that’s not the focus of the movie. We can probably assume that he was a difficult man and they just didn’t work out as a married couple and not be too far off the money. Like I said, not that it matters. I like both characters and how they interact with each other.
I suppose if there’s any real interaction between characters that got the short end of the stick was between Tony and Veronica, specifically Broadbent and Rampling. I mean, for a pair of characters with such a dramatic history, you’d think there’s be better chemistry between them, but there really wasn’t. I honestly couldn’t even really remember what their conversations were really about. I know the first interaction between them is about Tony trying to politely request the diary, but Veronica refuses. After that… I don’t know, it’s like he was trying to catch up with her, to butter her up, and eventually work his way to getting the diary. I remember him stalking her and stalking the people she was with, but… yeah, that’s about it. I don’t remember if anything was gained from their conversations or really how it furthered the plot.
Also, young Tony and Adrian didn’t have the best connection, I felt. Their backstory and how they met and became friends was supposed to be the dramatic center of how Tony became such an unhappy person. Thing is, there’s very little interaction between the two characters. The movie says they’re “best friends” but you never see them act like it. In fact, I don’t even really remember a scene with the two characters alone and hanging out. They share scenes with the other friends they hang out with, who are more memorable and have even less screen time. In fact, the more I think about it, this whole section of the story is horribly mishandled. For example, you never see Adrian and Veronica meet, let alone see their connection. So we never know why Veronica left Tony for Adrian, why Adrian would be with Veronica at all, why Veronica would be with Tony’s best friend for that matter, why Tony would write such a nasty letter to them both, why Adrian committed suicide over it, how Tony felt about the suicide, among so many other things that this movie fails to show us, which really hurts it. I’ll swing around to this topic again, but I’m going to take a few steps back and say that the ultimate problem with the younger characters is that they’re bland characters. Nothing stands out about them at all. Hell, I don’t even remember what young Veronica’s voice sounded like, she was so forgettable. And that’s the ultimate problem. If these characters aren’t interesting, we the audience can’t be invested. If we’re not invested, we can’t care about who cheated on who, or who killed himself for what reason, all of which are needed to understand and feel the weight of their emotions and what drove these characters to do what they did. Otherwise it just looks like college students acting like dumb-asses. And if the weight of these scenes are ineffective, the rest of the story falls flat in the present day when Tony and Veronica are older.
Oh wow. I guess I don’t really like this movie after all. But I stand by that I don’t hate it. The movie as a whole is forgettable, so that mellows out the frustrations. And like I said, Broadbent and Walter are fantastic together, but everything else fails to deliver emotional impact that would make this movie good. Sadly, there’s isn’t too much to talk about as the story barely gives you anything at all. So I don’t recommend seeing it in theaters. It may be worth a rental if you’re a fan of Broadbent and curious to see how he is as a leading man, or Walter in a more prominent role, but I don’t think you’ll get much out of it.
My honest rating for THE SENSE OF AN ENDING: a weak 3/5