The Sense of an Ending – A Preview

Notionally based on Julian Barnes’s novel of the same name, Ritesh Batra has refashioned Barnes’s meta-story of intrigue and misdirection into a compact and arresting puzzle that progresses with a pleasingly oblique trajectory.

In place of the cool headed device of an unreliable narrator, we are offered compare and contrast flashbacks, the allusions to Frank Kermode’s work of literary criticism having been quickly dispensed with. If you saw Batra’s debut, the heart-warming “The Lunchbox”, it will come as no surprise that he has instead focused on the relationships in Barnes’s narrative. A uniformly excellent cast, with Jim Broadbent at his ambivalent best as the odious Tony Webster, elevates what might otherwise have been a slight tale of lost love and missed opportunity, while Harriet Walter has never been so justifiably weary as his long suffering wife.

A study in reticence, it is sometimes hard to gauge how intentioned the films stately pace is, but keep the faith through a challenging second act and you’ll be rewarded with a thought provoking and intelligent examination of the space between failing memory and self-deception, and how a past finally resolved is no compensation for squandering of the present.

By David Vass