Ritesh Batra’s The Sense of an Ending adheres to The Lady in the Van’s (2015) artistic model, somewhat for better but mostly for worse.
They both feature style-bereft direction of saccharine catnip-for-the-geriatric (Nicholas Hytner – the director of Lady – can be forgiven because he’s first and foremost a theatre director, having steered London’s National Theatre to much success; what’s Batra’s excuse?).
They’re both written by expert playwrights – Nick Payne for Sense and Allan Bennet for Lady (the former is less expert than the latter, to say the least) – who seem to believe they need to dumb themselves down for the cinema, but their high intellects are still detectable.
The uniformly strong performances by the towering leads – Jim Broadbent and Harriet Walter in Sense, Maggie Smith and Alex Jennings in Lady – are somewhat diminished by the feeling that their roles fall a bit too comfortably in their respective wheelhouses.
Though the equally adept ensembles are too numerous to list, two in Sense stood out, one for better and the other for worse: I’m always a fan of Matthew Goode’s old-English, high-society brand of chewing the scenery, while Billy Howle comes cross like a poor man’s Eddie Redmayne.