A review of the new film “The Sense Of An Ending”

Based on the Booker Prize-winning novella by Julian Barnes (which I have read – my review here), inevitably this film adaptation is diffrent from the original work. The structure of the book was a section of the (unreliable) narrator’s time at school and university followed by the present day coming to terms with revelations of that earlier period. The film is set in the present with lots of flash-backs to the past and that works well.

More questionably, the movie version of “The Sense Of An Ending” has a different ending which is not that of the author Julian Barnes or even that of the scriptwriter, the playwrite Nick Payne, but essentially that of the director, Indian film-maker Ritesh Batra (who made the delightful work “The Lunchbox”). The film offers us a conclusion which is more definitive and more upbeat that the novel but that is perhaps the nature of this different medium.

“The Sense Of An Ending” is slow and serious but not all films can be “Fast And Furious”. The pacing allows the viewer to admire the wonderful acting, primarily from Jim Broadbent as the narrator, retired and divorced Tony Webster, but also from some fine actresses, notably Charlotte Rampling, Harriet Walter and Emily Mortimer, plus some new young actors.

Like the source novel, this film is a challenging and moving examination of the malleability of memory. As Tony puts it: ‘How often do we tell our own life story? How often do we adjust, embellish, make sly cuts?’ How often indeed …


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