It's nice to see Jim Broadbent in a starring role, and his warm presence is a boon to this wispy, high-minded drama. But our favorite befuddled British dad deserves a meatier character than Tony Webster, a retired Londoner whose comfortable life is mildly disrupted when the mother of an ex-girlfriend from his university days bequeaths to him a diary that the ex-girlfriend (played as an adult by Charlotte Rampling) refuses to hand over. There follows much introspection and flashing-back to when young Tony (Billy Howle), the girlfriend (Freya Mavor) and his best mate Adrian (Joe Alwyn) palled around. Directed by Ritesh Batra and faithfully adapted from Julian Barnes’ novel, the film is too staid for anything like “shocking” revelations, but Tony does come to realize a few things he didn’t know before, and Broadbent’s performance is endearing as always. But Tony is too thinly drawn: We never get a sense of what sort of person he is, or what lessons he needs to learn. Whatever they are, he seems to learn them, so good for him, I suppose.
Director: Ritesh Batra
Producer: David Thompson, Ed Rubin, Ben Browning, Aaron Ryder, Glen Basner, Milan Popelka, Norman Merry, Christine Langan and Ed Wethered
Cast: Jim Broadbent, Charlotte Rampling, Harriet Walter, Michelle Dockery, Matthew Goode, Emily Mortimer, James Wilby, Edward Holcroft, Billy Howle, Freya Mavor, Joe Alwyn, Peter Wight, Hilton McRae, Jack Loxton, Timothy Innes and Andrew Buckley