The Sense of an Ending

the sense of an ending

(spoiler free)

‘The Sense of an Ending’ is a film based on the novel of the same name by Julian Barnes. His novel won the Booker Prize award in 2011 but can this new film adaptation have a similar level of success? The film follows character Tony, an elderly divorcee who receives a letter which brings with it memories & mysteries of his past.

Jim Broadbent plays the lead role of Tony. This is one of his more substantial roles in recent years. In taking on such a challenge he demonstrates why he is still more than capable of delivering as a lead performer, as if there was ever any doubt! He can communicate emotion in the simplest of ways and effortlessly changes the tone of the film from sadness to comedy in seconds. The nature of the narrative allows for a younger cast portraying the early years of the character’s lives. Billy Howle & Joe Alwyn along with the rest of this fresh faced cast do a good job. There are supporting roles for many other well known names too including Charlotte Rampling, Matthew Goode, Emily Mortimer & Harriet Walter. All of these performers contribute effectively to the picture and use their more limited screen time positively.

As I’ve already mentioned the narrative is split into two sections. Broadbent plays the older version of Tony who reflects upon his earlier years. The section of reflection always engaged me far more. This is to be expected as it holds much of the stories mystery. The pace of the film is good. Whilst it’s a little slow to start and has moments when it slows it does enough to hold your attention for the running time. Of course when the drama reaches it’s peak within the narrative the film is at its best. Although there are more subtle moments of humour which offer a nice contrast to the at times heavy central story. One issue I did have with the film, ironically so, was the ending. Whilst perfectly satisfactory in its execution of the writing provided I couldn’t help but think that there was more to come from certain characters. There is a definite ending and you’ll get the sense for it but I thought there was maybe ten more minutes of drama to be had.

Despite that, this intimate character mystery is largely engaging and usually entertaining. The cast are one of the strongest elements of the film, with all members pulling their weight and providing quality performances. The narrative is written well and the dual story telling works. However, there are some dips in pace and it has to be said that the ending did leave me wanting more. ‘The Sense of an Ending’ is worth your time but it might be even better invested in the original source material. 

Rating – 7/10

Question: What is your favourite Jim Broadbent performance?
(Leave your answers in the comments section below!)


Thanks for reading this review and please let me know what you thought about the movie! Leave a comment below or drop me a tweet over at @HCMovieReviews.


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3 thoughts on “The Sense of an Ending

  1. Great review thank you. While much is made of the film’s lineage to the novel, the novel’s influence by Prof Frank Kermode’s seminal book of that name in 1967 is ignored. It explains the role of storytelling in making sense of our lives and helps to de-code this particular story. The film can be read in many ways, but makes most sense via a philosophical lens.

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