The Sense of an Ending (2017) - Plot Summary Poster


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  • A man becomes haunted by his past and is presented with a mysterious legacy that causes him to re-think his current situation in life.

  • Divorced and retired, Tony Webster, an aging Londoner and vintage camera shop owner, whittles down the solitude of his isolated existence by keeping an affectionate relationship with his ex-wife, Margaret, and by accompanying his nearly full-term pregnant daughter, Susie, to antenatal courses. However, the unexpected arrival of an unsettling letter will disrupt the fine balance of things in Tony's orderly life, reconnecting him with his first love from college, Veronica, and the nostalgic, yet clouded memories of a distant past. Inevitably, as Tony scavenges for bits and pieces through flashbacks, the out-of-focus picture of his youth will gradually sharpen, nevertheless, is he ready to face the truth?

  • An elderly divorce 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 an 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..


The synopsis below may give away important plot points.


  • Elderly Tony Webster (Jim Broadbent) suffers from repressed memory. He 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 Susie home, he reads a letter he has received earlier that day from a lawyer relating to the estate of the recently deceased Mrs Sarah Ford, the mother of his first love Veronica back from high school days. Tony goes to meet the lawyer Eleanor Marriott (Karina Fernandez) and learns that he has been left 500 pounds and two documents. The first document is a letter somewhat explaining the unwarranted gift; the second is a diary which is still with Veronica Ford. The lawyer cannot disclose Veronica's contact information to Tony without her consent. While having lunch with his ex-wife Margaret at a diner, Tony reveals for the first time his relationship with Veronica and his one-time meeting with her mother, Sarah. Margaret jokingly asks which one of them he did sleep with. Tony continues with his story. As he scavenges for bits and pieces through flashbacks, the out-of-focus picture of his youth gradually sharpens. One weekend, Veronica (Freya Mavor) invited him, then a university freshman, to meet her family at home. Tony was highly uncomfortable all weekend, especially with Veronica's father David (James Wilby) and her brother Jack (Edward Holcroft), both of whom were pleasant enough but seemed to Tony to be treating him with barely disguised contempt. Veronica also seemed to be distancing herself from him. On Saturday morning he had a rather strange conversation with Veronica's mother, Sarah Ford (Emily Mortimer), who seemed to him artistic, casual, and carefree, and warned him not to let Veronica get away with too much. Tony goes through his vague memories from that weekend, but can't think of anything significant. Tony meets the lawyer again and is told that the diary belonged to Adrian Finn, a former classmate. He goes to visit his ex-wife and reminisces about his last year at high school. In Sixth Form, Tony (Billy Howle) was a handsome but self-conscious young man. He and his two best friends, Colin Simpson (Jack Loxton) and Alex Stuart (Timothy Innes), accepted a new member into their group, Adrian Finn (Joe Alwyn), a highly intelligent boy who enjoyed arguing with their teacher. During their time at school a classmate, Robson, died from what many believed to be suicide after his girlfriend became pregnant. The four friends discussed the philosophical meaning of suicide. Tony was greatly impressed by Adrian when the latter made a clever comment in history class with their teacher Joe Hunt (Matthew Goode), using Robson's suicide as his example. Tony complimented Adrian, but was surprised when Adrian seemed to take the comment seriously rather than deflecting it ironically. Tony recalls that the four friends dispersed after they graduated from high school. Veronica and Tony continued dating during their undergrad years. Tony was eager to have 'full sex' with Veronica, who didn't let him go that far. He then wondered where their relationship was heading. After their breakup, Tony received a letter from Adrian requesting his blessing for a romantic relationship he had begun with Veronica. Tony wrote an 'approval' letter, replying that it was perfectly fine with him. A few years later, Tony met up with his two best friends, Colin and Alex, from Sixth Form, who informed Tony that Adrian had committed suicide. They also reminded the forgetful Tony that Adrian and Veronica had an instant connection when Tony first introduced them and it was then that their affair started. Following Adrian's suicide, the three friends went their separate ways. In present day, Tony reconnects with Colin (Peter Wight) and Alex (Hilton McRae). They help him in locating Veronica via email. Next morning, Veronica (Charlotte Rampling) calls Tony by phone and sets up a meeting. The 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 takes leave after handing Tony a letter. Tony tails after Veronica until she drives away in her car. Tony then takes Susie to hospital as she feels the baby is coming. He then finds time at the hospital to read the letter left with him by Veronica, only to find that the letter was clearly written by Tony himself. He now remembers that after tearing off the first 'approval' letter intended for Adrian, he re-wrote a nasty hurtful letter cursing them both. Reading it, Tony is shocked and appalled at his younger self. Margaret then comes to the hospital, and tells Tony that Susie's apparent labor is a false alarm. At home, Tony shows Margaret the nasty letter. Tony stalks Veronica till he finds her whereabouts. He discovers the name of the man she was seen holding hands with to be Adrian, who has a mental problem. Jumping to the conclusion that Adrian Jnr (Andrew Buckley) must be the son of Veronica and the deceased Adrian, he arranges a meeting with her once again to make his apology. The meeting doesn't go well as Veronica storms out to a truly apologetic Tony. When Tony later revisits the pub that young Adrian frequents, it is revealed by the caretaker of Adrian that young Adrian was, in fact, Sarah's son, that Victoria is actually young Adrian's half-sister. A few days later, Tony drives her daughter Susie to hospital when she really goes into labor. She gives birth to a healthy baby boy. Tony makes a sincere apology to Margaret for having made her life miserable. Margaret forgives him and later sends him a new watch as a gift. Sometime later Tony writes to Veronica, apologizing to her for what he has done. The story ends with Susie's visit to Tony, bringing along the new-born baby.

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