Taglines: Unravel the Truth.
Divorced and retired, Tony Webster, an ageing 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?
The Sense of an Ending is a 2017 British-American mystery drama film directed by Ritesh Batra and written by Nick Payne, based on the novel of the same name by Julian Barnes. The film stars Jim Broadbent, Charlotte Rampling, Harriet Walter, Emily Mortimer and Michelle Dockery. The film had its world premiere at the Palm Springs International Film Festival on 2 January 2017. It was released in the United States on 10 March 2017, by CBS Films and Lionsgate, and in the United Kingdom on 14 April 2017, by StudioCanal.
About the Story
An elderly divorcé Anthony ‘Tony’ Webster (Jim Broadbent) runs a camera shop in London and lives a mostly sedate life. One day, his ex-wife, Margaret (Harriet Walter) asks him to accompany their pregnant daughter, Susie (Michelle Dockery) to her prenatal birthing class. After dropping her home, he reads a letter he has received earlier that day.
It is from the estate of the recently deceased Mrs. Sarah Ford, the mother of a former girlfriend whom he met in the 1960s while at university. He is left 500 pounds and two documents, the first is a letter somewhat explaining an unwarranted gift. The second document is still with Tony’s former girlfriend and Sarah’s daughter, Veronica Ford. Tony is confused why the mother of an ex-girlfriend whom he only met once decades ago would leave him something in her will.
While having lunch with Margaret, he reveals for the first time his relationship with Veronica and his one-time meeting with her mother, Sarah. Seeing that Tony speaks highly of both of them, Margaret jokingly asks which one of them did he sleep with. To which he comments neither one. He then reminisces about his time at school.
In Sixth Form, Tony was a handsome but self-conscious young man. He (Billy Howle) and his two best friends accept a new member into their group, Adrian Finn (Joe Alwyn), a highly intelligent boy who enjoys arguing with their teacher and considers himself an intellectual. During their time at school a classmate, Robson, dies from what many believe to be suicide after his girlfriend became pregnant. Drawing on the philosophy of French existentialist Albert Camus, the friends discuss the philosophical meaning of suicide, coming to the conclusion that Robson did not die for the right reasons.
After the boys graduate and go their own ways, Adrian earns a full ride to Cambridge while Tony is accepted into the University of Bristol. Tony meets and begins a relationship with Veronica Ford (Freya Mavor). After some time, she takes him to meet her family. Her father, David Ford (James Wilby) and brother, Jack Ford (Edward Holcroft), are a little crude but friendly. However, her mother, Sarah Ford (Emily Mortimer), is very attractive and even flirts with Tony. At dinner, Tony tells Jack, who studies at Cambridge, that his best friend Adrian also studies there, but Jack does not know who that is. Later that night, Tony masturbates in the bathroom following a goodnight kiss from Veronica.
The next morning, Tony wakes up and finds that Veronica, Jack and David have left for a walk, leaving him and Sarah alone in the house. As she fixes him breakfast, Sarah flirts with Tony and then subtly warns him about Veronica’s true nature, but he does not immediately get it. As Tony is leaving, Sarah responds to Tony’s goodbye wave with a mysterious horizontal gesture at waist level. Tony is unsure if she is waving goodbye to him or offering him a signal or warning.
When Tony returns to university, Veronica visits him to meet Adrian and the rest of their friends. They have a good time, but later on, Veronica breaks up with Tony. He later receives a letter from Adrian requesting his blessing for a romantic relationship he has begun with Veronica, to which Tony reacts strongly. He decides to respond positively at first. However, he then writes a new response, harsh and unrelenting, speaking of Veronica being damaged and how even her mother warned him about her, but without any real reasoning behind this accusations. He also writes how he wishes they will have a child together, and the child will have to pay for its parents’ sins. He never hears back from either of them after that.
The Sense of an Ending (2017)
Directed by: Ritesh Batra
Starring: Jim Broadbent, Charlotte Rampling, Harriet Walter, Michelle Dockery, Matthew Goode, Emily Mortimer, James Wilby, Freya Mavor, Peter Wight, Hilton McRae, Timothy Innes, Alexa Davies
Screenplay by: Nick Payne
Production Design by: Jacqueline Abrahams
Cinematography by: Christopher Ross
Film Editing by: John F. Lyons
Costume Design by: Odile Dicks-Mireaux
Art Direction by: Max Klaentschi
Music by: Max Richter
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for thematic elements, a violent image, sexuality and brief strong language.
Distributed by: CBS Films, Lionsgate Films
Release Date: March 10, 2017