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The Sense of an Ending

2017-03-24 07:28
 

What it's about:

Tony Webster leads a reclusive and quiet existence until long-buried secrets from his past force him to face the flawed recollections of his younger self, the truth about his first love, and the devastating consequences of decisions made a lifetime ago.

What we thought:

The Sense of Ending is an intriguing film, even if at times it became a bit stretched out. It is one of those films where the audience is faced with an unreliable narrator who recounts his version of events, and shapes himself the way he wants to be seen. It’s only human to want to see the best of ourselves, and sometimes we shape our stories so that it fits our own ideas of the kind of person we want to be, but like the main character, sooner or later we are faced with the truth of our actions and can no longer hide in our edited memories.

An ageing retiree Tony (Jim Broadbent) becomes reacquainted with his past after he receives a letter from the mother of his ex-girlfriend. He starts to recount his youth to his ex-wife, but soon comes face to face with the embellishments and lies he has told himself over the years.

Throughout the film, you are never sure if Broadbent’s character willfully changed the story of his youth in order to make him feel better about his actions, or if it has been so many years that he managed to convince himself of the adjustments he’s made to his memory. He is quite a conceited man, and makes himself blind to his wrongdoings, and though we share in his blindness for half of the film, we discover with him who he really is through the eyes of his ex-wife, his daughter and his old flame. Broadbent is of course just a genial veteran actor and would be at home in any BBC production, but he could do this role in his sleep as there isn’t too much of a challenge to it. 

However, Billy Howle, who plays the young Tony, had a more difficult task, playing out the subtle lies that older Tony is telling himself so that when all is finally revealed, you realise what was really happening. The rest of the cast weren’t extremely memorable and was purely supporting props for the main actor to weave his tale and reveal his flaws. Though the plot grabbed your attention, the film had to fight to keep it, especially through parts that felt more like filler because the Brits don’t really do brevity. It’s a drawn out, typically British production, so if you consume BBC on a daily basis, then this will be a walk in the park for you.

The Sense of an Ending places a big question mark on our memories, their validity and how they might differ if we had the chance to see the events in our lives from another person’s perspective. Perhaps some of us live with open eyes, but many I think are like Tony, snipping at our memories so that it suits what we believe of ourselves until the proverbial chickens come home to roost.  


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