"The Sins of the Past"
A Review of "The Sense of an Ending" by Nathan H. Box
Starring: Jim Broadbent and Michelle Dockery, Director: Ritesh Batra, Writer: Nick Payne (Adaption)
Roger Ebert, the film critic and one of my personal heroes, once wrote, "How can a movie review be written in the third person, as if it were an account of facts? If it isn't subjective, there's something false about it."
As I stared at a blank white page, hoping to write my review for "The Sense of an Ending," I needed his words. Why? Because I often come across books, poems, movies, or some other piece of art and think this isn't meant for me or I am not ready for this. Such is this case for this film.
At 33 years old, I am not ready to confront the sins of my past. Well into his 60's, Tony Webster, the focus of the movie, isn't ready to deal with his sins either. In fact, he has spent most of his life pretending they weren't there. Only when he is finally confronted with the death of a former girlfriend's mother does the past come back to haunt him. It is delivered in the form of a financial gift and a long-lost journal. Without spoiling anything, this is when the plot gets truly interesting. It's also when things get personal for me.
Like everyone else and much like the characters in this movie, at some point in time, all of us become old enough to face our regrets. For Tony Webster, it was a nasty letter he had written. For other's it may be our failings as parents, our lack of attention at work or our inability to get beyond our apathy. Whatever it is, we will have to face it. Then we may discover time does not heal all wounds.
Even though Tony moved on, married, and had a child, those he hurt didn't forgive and forget. Their wounds were too deep and all too real. Tony, like all of us, chose to close chapters of his life without consideration that someone else may still be writing their side of the story. This is the ultimate lesson from this movie. No matter how perfect we think we are, we, without a shadow of a doubt, have wronged others. What we decide to do next is our choice.
For me, this is why reviews must be subjective. I go to the movies to be entertained, but the truly good films having something to teach us. Not all of them do it effectively and this movie is one of those, but the lesson was recognized nonetheless.