Divorced and retired, Tony Webster, an aging Londoner and vintage camera shop owner, whittles down the solitude of his isolated existence by keeping an affectionate relationship with his ex-wife, Margaret, and by accompanying his nearly full-term pregnant daughter, Susie, to antenatal courses. However, the unexpected arrival of an unsettling letter will disrupt the fine balance of things in Tony’s orderly life, reconnecting him with his first love from college, Veronica, and the nostalgic, yet clouded memories of a distant past. Inevitably, as Tony scavenges for bits and pieces through flashbacks, the out-of-focus picture of his youth will gradually sharpen, nevertheless, is he ready to face the truth?
User Reviews: The English film The Sense of an Ending (2017) was directed by Ritesh Batra. This excellent movie has an all-star cast. Jim Broadbent portrays Tony Webster, a divorced man who is technically retired, but who runs a camera repair shop that specializes in Leica cameras. Dame Harriet Walter plays Margaret Webster, his divorced wife. They have a grown daughter Susie (Michelle Dockery) who is a pregnant, partner-less lesbian. Charlotte Rampling plays Veronica Ford. She holds a secret that is the key to a critical moment in Tony’s life that took place 50 years earlier.
Jim Broadbent is one of the greatest actors of the late 20th and early 21st Century. I’ve seen him in many films, and he always inhabits his role as if he were, indeed, that person. Dame Margaret Webster is a fine actor, and has appeared in dozens of movies and made-for-TV specials. However, I think the only time I’ve seen her on screen was as the vile Fanny Dashwood in Sense and Sensibility (1995). She does a highly professional job as a embittered woman, whose life is absorbed by her business interests.
Michelle Dockery looks as if she just changed costumes and walked into this movie from Downton Abbey. She is always angry and depressed. For the record, her part is small and non-central in this film. I think she wants to broaden her range, but that didn’t happen here. Could she ever star in a comedy?
Charlotte Rampling was one of the most beautiful women in movies. At age 70, she still is one of the most beautiful women in movies. She is not only beautiful, but she is a consummate actor who is made for this role.
This film is complicated. About 75% of it takes place in present time, and about 20% takes place in flashback. (The other 5% are dream and imaginary scenes, when the present enters into the past.) You’ll have to pay close attention or you’ll miss the point. In fact, during the middle of the film, I missed the point. However, towards the end, it all came together and made sense.
(Incidentally, there’s a tedious sequence in the beginning, when Tony gets a certified letter, and he almost opens it, then he sort of opens it, then he opens it and doesn’t read it, and finally, finally reads it. The letters starts off the entire plot, so he needs to read it, and we need to know what it says. That’s the only weak part of the movie.)
We saw this film at the excellent Little Theatre in Rochester, NY. Even though it’s meant to be seen on the large screen, it will work well on the small screen. This movie has a ridiculously low IMDb rating of 6.5. It’s much better than that. This is one of those ratings that you have to ignore. Don’t miss this movie just because it’s rated so low.
P.S. Relevant to The Sense of an Ending: The Moving Finger writes; and, having writ, Moves on: nor all thy Piety nor Wit. Shall lure it back to cancel half a Line, Nor all thy Tears wash out a Word of it." From the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam.