The Sense Of An Ending 15A
In a cinema near you:
Tony (Jim Broadbent) is an elderly divorcee who receives a letter from a woman he knew in his college days that forces him to reevaluate his memories.
Adapting novels can be a tricky business, primarily because the structure of a novel might work for written word, but not necessarily for moving pictures. In some cases, the structure has to be thrown out in order to accommodate a different medium and sometimes, they'll try to blend the two. For every Lord Of The Rings, there's a Cloud Atlas. One works, one doesn't. The Man Booker Prize-winning novel, The Sense Of An Ending, is split into two - with the first part about Tony in his college days and the second as an elderly divorcee.
In the film, this structure is thrown out and replaced with a crotchety Jim Broadbent recounting the story to his ex-wife, which then shows Broadbent's character in his youth, played by Billy Howle. For the most part, the flicking back and forth between the two works reasonably well, and the story's relatively easy to follow. It's only later in the film, when Charlotte Rampling turns up and Jim Broadbent's character tries to keep in contact with her that the wheels start to come off. Essentially, what it's driving at is that is Broadbent's character isn't necessarily a reliable narrator and that his own prejudices and motivations are colouring the story. That's fine, and it's made clear from the start, but when you play back the ending and try to figure out which is real and which is imaginary, it gets muddy.
Moreover, the story itself isn't exactly exciting or compelling. It's basically about a short-lived relationship in college, and has affected Broadbent's character for most of his life. The film moves at such a pace and underplays everything that it feels like almost nothing is happening throughout. That said, Jim Broadbent is perfect as the curmudgeonly divorcee, rolling his eyes at just about everything and around him. Charlotte Rampling, meanwhile, only appears for a few scenes and has little in the way of impact. The younger versions of Broadbent's and Rampling's characters are nowhere near as fun to watch, thus lessening the impact of the story. By the end of it all, you realise that it's just a story about people who aren't particularly nice and the consequences of it all are so minute that the film ultimately becomes forgettable.
Had there been more time to spread out its story and develop more, perhaps in the format of a TV miniseries, it might have worked better. As it stands, there's little here to get overly excited about.
Review by Brian Lloyd | 13:41 | Tuesday 11th April 2017 | Movie Review