Without Jim Broadbent in the role of Tony, it probably wouldn’t even be worth watching
Very few of his recent roles have supplied Jim Broadbent with the chance to bring a character to life as much as The Sense Of An Ending. Broadbent is outstanding as the fascinating personality of Tony Webster, a camera shop owner living in London. There is a quiet flow to his flawed nature, and Broadbent pulls his self centred values to the forefront of his characterisation without ever forcing feeling or making it seem unnatural. There are other good performances throughout, but Broadbent absolutely takes the plaudits and he deserves it.
The story follows Julian Barnes Booker Prize winning novel of the same name, as Tony (Jim Broadbent) discovers his ex-girlfriend’s mother has left him a diary in her will. Incensed to have it, he attempts to contact his former lover Veronica (Charlotte Rampling) for access, but when he is denied, memories of past mistakes produce feelings from Tony he never thought he would ever sense again.
The film is essentially a very late coming of age story and is one with heavy themes of deception and it relys on misdirection. Being a Booker Prize winning novel, there is a huge amount to run with but this doesn’t stop the film’s general feeling of being underdone. The Sense Of An Ending seems generally incapable of surprise even though the story lends itself hugely to a twist.
Something has gone astray in the switch between book and film, as it often does, but The Sense Of An Ending profits massively from having a leading character like Broadbent. It’s an incredibly true form of drama and there’s a lot to like, but the feeling afterwards is not one of enjoyment but one akin to an underwhelming sense of regret.
A different film maker will obviously have produced a different film, but one without Jim Broadbent in the role of Tony, probably wouldn’t even be worth watching. It really is a once in a lifetime performance.