Richard sits in on the CFRA Morning Show with host Bill Carroll to talk about the weekend’s big releases, the live action version of “Beauty and the Beast,” the drug addled “T2 Trainspotting,” the no-holds-barred “Goon: Last of the Enforcers,” and “The Sense of an Ending” with Jim Broadbent.
“Our life is not our life,” says Tony Webster (Jim Broadbent), “it’s just a story we’ve told to others.” Such is the theme of “The Sense of An Ending,” a gentle retelling of Julian Barnes’ Man Booker Prize-winning 2011 novel about human nature and the vagaries of memory.
Webster’s life is uneventful. An alarm wakes him at the same time every day. After a light breakfast he heads to his camera repair shop, puts in his hours and returns home. Occasionally he attends a birthing class with his pregnant-soon-to-be-single-mom daughter (Michelle Dockery) or enjoys a quick phone call with his cagey ex-wife Margaret (Harriet Walter).
A solicitor’s letter disrupts his quiet semi-retirement. Out of the blue he discovers the mother of his long ago ex-girlfriend Veronica (Freya Mavor) has died and left him something in the will. It is the diary of Adrian (Joe Alwyn) an old friend and classmate at Cambridge. Trouble is, Veronica (played in later life by Charlotte Rampling) doesn’t want to hand it over. Obsessed with getting what is rightfully his, Tony launches an investigation into Veronica and, ultimately, his own unsettled past.
Flip flopping between the present day and 1960s England, “The Sense of An Ending,” is an engaging look at what happens when the debris of a life lived enters into Tony’s well-ordered old age. The story is compelling—although the “as told to” nature of the flashbacks, complete with Margaret’s “so what happened nexts” seem a bit contrived—but the performances are bang on.
Broadbent is a careful mix of curmudgeon and charmer, a self-effacing man forced to confront and rediscover what is important to him. It’s subtle, effortless work and draws us deep into Tony’s tale.
He is supported by strong work from the women in Tony’s life, Walter, Dockery and Rampling. Each are key to the story and each help Tony on his journey of self discovery while never losing themselves or being relegated to stereotypical roles. Also worth a mention is a short but storing performance from Emily Mortimer as Veronica’s mother.
“The Sense of An Ending” is occasionally light and breezy when it should hunker down and dig a little deeper, but Broadbent and Co ensure it is never less than involving.
“Another Year,” the new kitchen-sink drama from British director Mike Leigh should more accurately be titled “Look at All the Lonely People.” A nicely rendered portrait of forlorn folks, it’s as if Leigh tried to make a film as dour as his last movie, “Happy-Go-Lucky,” was effervescent.
Much of the action in “Another Year” revolves around the home of Tom and Gerri (Jim Broadbent and Ruth Sheen), a happy couple just a few years shy of retirement. With open arms and open hearts they welcome a diverse cast of characters — people as unstable as they are stable — into their home, including Gerri’s desperately unhappy co-worker Mary (Lesley Manville) and Tom’s old friend Ken (Peter Wight). Stirred into the mix are the couple’s geeky son (Oliver Maltman), his girlfriend (Karina Fernandez) and Tom’s recently widowed brother (“Harry Potter’s” David Bradley).
As the title suggests, “Another Year” takes place over the course of a year, divided into four sections, each representing a season. Presented as a slice-of-life look at this group of people — very light on plot but heavy on character — it has little to do with the passing of time, except to imply that time doesn’t really heal all wounds, but the loose structure gives form to the otherwise shapeless, although entertaining, story.
Performances rich in nuance abound — Broadbent is his usually effortless self and Sheen is warm and watchable — but it is Lesley Manville who steals the show. Her take on Mary is the personification of dissatisfaction and distress and dominates the movie.
“Another Year” isn’t a traditional narrative but like the best of Leigh’s films it is unflinching in its portrayal of real — not reel — life.