The Sense of an Ending (film)

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The Sense of an Ending
The Sense of an Ending poster.jpg
Directed byRitesh Batra
Produced by
Written byNick Payne
Based onThe Sense of an Ending
by Julian Barnes
Music byMax Richter[1]
CinematographyChristopher Ross
Edited byJohn F. Lyons
Distributed by
Release date
  • 2 January 2017 (2017-01-02) (Palm Springs)
  • 10 March 2017 (2017-03-10) (United States)
  • 14 April 2017 (2017-04-14) (United Kingdom)
Running time
108 minutes[2]
  • United Kingdom
  • United States
Box office$4.5 million[3]

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, Billy Howle, 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.


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 the 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.

A few years later, Tony meets up with his two best friends from Sixth Form and they inform him that Adrian has committed suicide. They explain how Adrian seemed happy and in love at first, presumably with Veronica, whom he got together with after Tony introduced them both. Tony argues that Veronica could have met Adrian through her brother, Jack who also studies at Cambridge. However, his friends point out how Adrian and Veronica had an instant connection when he first introduced them and it was then that their affair started. Following Adrian's suicide, the three friends go their separate ways. Tony later meets Margaret, marries her and settles down.

In present day, Tony goes to meet Sarah Ford's lawyer and learns that the second document is Adrian's diary. Tony reconnects with his two Sixth Form friends and they help him in locating Veronica, plus requesting the diary and an explanation. Veronica (Charlotte Rampling) replies to the email and they set up a meeting. Their meeting does not go well as it is apparent that Veronica is still angry at him. She explains that she has burned the diary and leaves after handing Tony a letter. It turns out to be the angry letter he wrote to her and Adrian. In other words, Veronica destroyed the diary that was in possession of her mother at the time of her death, yet chose to keep Tony's letter, which clearly was written out of hurt and frustration. Tony is clearly confused about what drove Adrian to commit suicide, and the frustration is even greater knowing that the diary destroyed by Veronica would have helped to explain what led his best friend to take his own life. While spying on Veronica, Tony sees her with a mentally unstable young man with red hair like Adrian, and starts to believe it is their son. However Tony later learns that Adrian Jr. is not Veronica's son but her younger half-brother. Tony immediately assumes it is the son of Veronica's mother, Sarah and Adrian Sr.

A few days later, Tony's daughter Susie goes into labor and gives birth to a healthy baby boy she names Joshua. Some time later Tony writes to Veronica, apologizing to her for what he has done. She receives the letter, and we see her in profile as she reads it.



On 8 February 2015, it was announced that Ritesh Batra would next direct a drama for Origin Pictures and BBC Films, based on the Julian Barnes' novel The Sense of an Ending, and scripted by Nick Payne.[5] On 11 May 2015, Jim Broadbent was cast in the film for the lead role, which BBC Films and FilmNation Entertainment would be financing, and FilmNation also handling the international sales.[6] David M. Thompson and Ed Rubin of Origin Pictures would finance the film.[6] On 6 August 2015, an ensemble cast was announced including Charlotte Rampling, Harriet Walter, Emily Mortimer, Michelle Dockery, Billy Howle, Freya Mavor, and Joe Alwyn.[4] Lipsync Productions would also co-finance the film along with BBC Films and FilmNation Entertainment.[4] On 8 September 2015 CBS Films acquired the US distribution rights to the film.[7]


Principal photography on the film began on 8 September 2015 in London and Bristol.[7][8] Filming lasted for seven weeks.[4]


It had its world premiere at the Palm Springs International Film Festival on 2 January 2017.[9] The film was released in the United States on 10 March 2017[10] and in the United Kingdom on 14 April 2017.[11]


Box office[edit]

The Sense of an Ending grossed $1.3 million in the United States and Canada and $3.2 million in other territories for a worldwide total of $4.5 million.[3]

Critical response[edit]

On review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating of 74% based on 105 reviews, with an average rating of 6.4/10. The site's critical consensus states, "Anchored by a strong starring performance by Jim Broadbent, The Sense of an Ending proves consistently gripping even as it skims the narrative surface of its literary source material."[12] On Metacritic, the film holds a score of 61 out of 100, based on 24 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews".[13]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Max Richter Scoring 'The Sense of an Ending' & FX's 'Taboo'". Film Music Reporter. 24 October 2016. Retrieved 25 October 2016.
  2. ^ "The Sense of an Ending". Palm Springs International Film Festival. Retrieved 3 January 2017.
  3. ^ a b "The Sense of an Ending (2017)". The Numbers. Nash Information Services, LLC. Retrieved 30 March 2018.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Jaafar, Ali (6 August 2015). "Charlotte Rampling, Harriet Walter, Emily Mortimer and Michelle Dockery Board 'The Sense Of An Ending'". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved 7 August 2015.
  5. ^ Macnab, Geoffrey (8 February 2015). "Lunchbox director Ritesh Batra in talks to adapt The Sense of An Ending". Retrieved 7 August 2015.
  6. ^ a b Siegel, Tatiana; McClintock, Pamela (11 May 2015). "Cannes: Jim Broadbent to Star in 'The Sense of an Ending' (Exclusive)". Retrieved 7 August 2015.
  7. ^ a b Fleming Jr, Mike (8 September 2015). "CBS Films Pre-Buys 'The Sense Of An Ending' – Toronto". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved 15 September 2015.
  8. ^ Evry, Max (8 September 2015). "The Sense of an Ending Starts Production, First Images of Michelle Dockery". Retrieved 15 September 2015.
  9. ^ Hipes, Patrick (15 December 2016). "Palm Springs Film Festival Lineup Set; 'The Sense Of An Ending' To Open, The Comedian' To Close". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved 3 January 2017.
  10. ^ N'Duka, Amanda (13 December 2016). "'The Sense Of An Ending' Trailer: Secrets Are Unearthed In Drama Starring Jim Broadbent & Charlotte Rampling". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved 13 December 2016.
  11. ^ "The Sense of an Ending". Studio Canal. Retrieved 13 December 2016.
  12. ^ "The Sense of an Ending (2017)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango. Retrieved 30 March 2018.
  13. ^ "The Sense of an Ending Reviews". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved 30 March 2018.

External links[edit]