Author Katherine Anne Porter probably said it best when she wrote "The past is never where you think you left it." But the other old saying "The past is best left in the past" could also appropriately describe the moral of Ritesh Batra's adaptation of Julian Barnes novel "The Sense of an Ending".


Veteran British actor Jim Broadbent steps nobly into the lead as Tony Webster and is perfectly cast as the confused curmudgeon whose version of his own past is much different from reality - as he finds out.


His life-long review is brought about upon the delivery of a certified letter concerning the death of an old lady friend. The letter describes some money he will receive plus mentions a package that is currently in the possession of her daughter, Veronica, with whom Webster also had a relationship.

It is skimmed over, but you get the sense that the affair with Sarah (played by Emily Mortimer) was purely physical in the vein of Mrs Robinson. But little time is spent on it and by the time the film reaches its end, you really wish Batra had spent more time on Sarah and Tony's relationship.


Anyway, the item in question is indeed in the possession of Veronica (played in her elder years by Charlotte Rampling) and she first refuses to surrender the item and then claims she burned it. The item turns out to be the diary of their mutual friend Adrian Finn who long ago committed suicide.


The recollection of the past is told to Tony's ex-wife Margaret (played deliciosuly by Harriet Walter) who charges that this was the first time she had hear of any of the details. She knew a little about Veronica and a little about Sarah but apparently everything else is a blur. Now comes the confessions.


However, as Tony tries to find out the whereabouts of the diary and then the whereabouts of Veronica, he finds out that he was unaware of a great many things. His own ego had ignored details that come as a shock in the end.


Fortunately for the film, Broadbent and company were cast because the screenplay adaptation leaves out many items that would have help pull the film together quickly.

You wonder why the story was truncated to 108 minutes when it could have easily supported the extra ten or fifteen minutes that would have improved it.


"The Sense of an Ending" is a marvelous showcase of how great acting can bail out an iffy script. Jim Broadbent, Harriet Walter and Charlotte Rampling are hands down worth the price of admission.   -- GEOFF BURTON