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  Entertainment   Movie Reviews  20 May 2017  The Sense of an Ending movie review: The past is not of your choosing...

The Sense of an Ending movie review: The past is not of your choosing...

THE ASIAN AGE. | SURAJ PRASAD
Published : May 20, 2017, 2:18 am IST
Updated : May 20, 2017, 2:18 am IST

It is the story of Tony Webster, and he makes an attempt to share it with us.

A still from the movie The Sense of an Ending
 A still from the movie The Sense of an Ending
Rating:

Cast: Jim Broadbent, Michelle Dockery, Charlotte Rampling, Emily Mortimer, Harriet Walter
Director: Ritesh Batra

I haven’t aged so much, but when I look back at my childhood, I remember the narrow brook that I would cross while walking to my school. I would often pause there for sometime and look at the tiny fishes or tadpoles before continuing. Such is the poetry in The Sense of an Ending. Jim Broadbent who plays Tony Webster, is an old man who runs a small business after his retirement to keep himself engaged. His business, or profession so to say, is about nostalgia, about doing something that he deeply cares for and somehow tries to tender his heart with. The businessman in his character is thrown out in the first few minutes of the film, what remains is the person.

As individuals we all live through our lives with our stories, our beliefs and ideas that make us who we are and help us compound upon our existence.

Tony is a divorced father whose daughter is in a lesbian relationship and is about to become a mother with the help of artificial insemination. His ex-wife is a good friend with whom he can still have useful conversations. He is a little sharp sometimes and has his quick comebacks in some situations but then all of us have our quirks.

His routine life hits a storm when he receives a letter telling him about a certain friend’s diary that now belongs to him. This diary then becomes his quest and also our quest. We want the diary as bad as he does, perhaps to find that closure, the missing piece in his life’s puzzle.

Throughout the narrative of this beautifully crafted film, Ritesh Batra lets you live these brief recesses, of memories from the school, the first kiss, the first date and the highlights from the routine classrooms. These recesses are not hurried allowing you to sometimes go back into your own memories, helping you to place yourself in the larger context of the film and its characters who maybe foreign but yet have some basic similarities.

Tony’s conversations with his ex-wife are also mostly inconclusive, non-coherent and mostly going astray, somewhat closely mimicking conversations we can have with people we trust and connect with.

Batra has taken his craft a notch higher with his second film, and it is interesting to see how he allows his characters to have brief moments of solitude.

Instead of giving us the diary and let us have the closure, Sense of an Ending takes it further away, and in doing so, it emphasises on the notion that it is impossible to know exactly what might have happened in the absence of the testimony of the past, in other words, what is past is past and no matter how well you try to understand it and unravel it it will still have a multitude of open ends, therefore your closure is not outside, but inside.

Whatever you choose to accept as the explanation is completely on you, but bear in mind that your choice in the present will have absolutely no consequence on the past. One chooses, therefore, to help make peace with oneself.

My favourite scene from the film is the one at the lakeside, in this wide shot one forgets that there is a car with the subjects of the film in it until the shot is cut to a close up, bringing you back into the story.

It is the story of Tony Webster, and he makes an attempt to share it with us, whether we choose to sympathise with him or not is completely our choice, he doesn’t really make a strong case but then again he realises that our sympathy will have absolutely no effect on his past and his actions in the present, perhaps he simply got it off his chest while he could.

The writer is founder, Lightcube Film Society

Tags: ritesh batra, jim broadbent, michelle dockery