Tugged in by the cleverly tempting trailer and being a fan of fabulous thespian’s Jim Broadbent & Charlotte Rampling who were supposed stars of this eagerly anticipated & quintessentially English screenplay, there was much promise although the result was disapprovingly different. But what made this movie so mundane and is there any silver lining to this cinematically catastrophic cloud?
When it comes to selecting a screenplay to plump for these days, there are a number of factors we tend to take into consideration, not least that in giving over at least three hours to a cinema trip, travelling & all, it needs to prove worthwhile, indeed we have all but given up on evening screenings for that very reason, all too often they proving a disappointment for one reason or another, while we are not good with crowds anywhere, let along in a cinema. But timings aside, the trails we see influence immensely and we often make up our mind on this alone, although we do also take a film’s cast into consideration before making our choice which, in the case of “The Sense Of An Ending” was an overriding factor in our decision to rush to the cinema the weekend it was released. Indeed, being a fan of both lead actor in this quintessentially English (moreover London based) movie, Jim Broadbent, as well as superb support in this film, Charlotte Rampling, she of cinematic classics, “Georgi Girl”, “Farewell My Lovely” & “The Night Porter” fame, but also recently for the outstanding “45 Years”, Broadbent’s silver screen showings standing him out in our books including “Another Year”, Mike Leigh’s clever comedy drama looking at four seasons of an old couples family life, “Brazil” where Jim’s portrayal of unconventional plastic surgeon Dr Jaffe was a sheer delight, his multiple roles in the iconic “Cloud Atlas”, but moreover as the hapless husband & father in the “Bridget Jones” trilogy. Yet while they were a major reason why we elected to go see “The Sense Of An Ending”, it was also its Britishness, albeit having commissioned by American production company FilmNation and directed by an Indian, Ritesh Batra, it’s financial backers, Origin Pictures, are British, it has the might of BBC Films behind it and is, of course, based on the book of the same name by British author, Julian Barnes, thus boasted considerable credentials even before watching the teasing trailer which would entice even the most sceptical of screen goers.
So, given all this, what could possibly go wrong? Well, as it turned out, a lot, as despite the temptations of the trailer painting a prolific pitch to this motion picture, the outcome was nothing short of mundane, the constant switches between the main character’s latter life & his tumultuous time in scholarship decades before, off putting to say the least, we wanting the focus to be predominantly on Broadbent, but it was more about the young Tony Webster who, compared to Jim’s passionate & characterful portrayal of the elderly divorcee, was calculatedly callous & not very nice to boot. Then there was Rampling’s involvement which, according to the trailer would be significant, yet the parts of the picture she appeared in were no-where near enough as, like Tom, her character Veronica Ford, was much more prominent in the scenes focussing in the younger years, the flashback’s a fatal flaw in endearing us to this film. However, just as consternating, was the side show to the storyline, the elderly divorcee’s daughter’s pregnancy along with his strange relationship with his ex which, for the first part of this below par picture, seemed to shroud the more prominent parts of the storyline, the feeling being that the movie’s makers had attempted to keep far too close to the book which, clearly, struggled to translate onto the screen sufficiently successfully. But there was more, as the punchiness of the trailer preview was utterly lacking, no soundtrack score of any substance, some of the scenes so yawn worthy that we actually felt ourselves dropping off to sleep on a number of occasions, while there was a constant urge for the film to fire on captivating cylinders, yet is hardly left starting blocks, consistently dragging us along with its mundanity and those eventually irritating scene switches back to yesteryear, proving a disappointing distraction step too far. Yes, we liked the familiarly of the London landscape, yes, we admired the acting from both Broadbent & Rampling, but in no way was this a “45 Years” triumph, or indeed a “Brazil” or an “Another Year”, as for us, all we can conclude on “The Sense Of An Ending” is that we were relieved when this bewilderingly slow burning story came to an end! (DISCO MATT)