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Times of India
Tony Webster’s mundane retiree life is thrown into a tizzy following a letter from an old acquaintance. He dives headfirst into his past, and reassesses a former relationship, a forgotten friendship and a few repressed memories only to come to rude realizations.
Four years later, Ritesh Batra opens another lunchbox and serves up a story that is at once simple and magical, like a hot home-cooked meal.
We know the key ingredient in Batra’s pantry: he spins the best tales out of regular people with insignificant lives and a slight irregularity that alters it all. In The Lunchbox (2013), it was misaddressed notes sent in tiffin boxes. In The Sense Of An Ending, it is a letter that forces the protagonist to rethink the course of his life.
Tony (Jim Broadbent) learns that his ex-girlfriend Veronica’s (Charlotte Rampling) mother has left him a diary that belonged to his friend. But Veronica refuses to part with the diary. As Tony narrates old events to his ex-wife Margaret (Harriet Walter), he realizes that he may have a rather convenient memory of a murky past.
Jim Broadbent plays a letter-writing grumpy old man trapped in a world of smartphones and clicks and clacks; the movie thrives on his comic timing and vulnerability. Charlotte Rampling is a force of nature even in this understated role that requires her to not say much. Broadbent and Rampling’s younger counterparts (Howle and Mavor) also add great charm to the movie. Harriet Walter is superb as Tony’s ex-wife who has little patience for his irresponsibility and his obsessive soul-searching.
Writer Nick Payne has done a credible job of infusing this emotional story with a good dose of thrill; the last act is so structured that you may be left deciphering the plot if you don’t watch with rapt attention. On rare occasions, the movie delves into unnecessary details. Michelle Dockery plays Tony’s pregnant daughter and the purpose of her character isn’t entirely clear (except for a very obvious connection to an event in Tony’s past). But these are minuscule flaws.
With his English-language debut, Batra proves that his journey as a filmmaker is in sharp contrast with the title of his film.