THE SENSE OF AN ENDING (15, 108 mins) Drama/Romance. Jim Broadbent, Charlotte Rampling, Harriet Walter, Michelle Dockery, Emily Mortimer, James Wilby, Billy Howle, Freya Mavor, Joe Alwyn. Director: Ritesh Batra.
Released: April 14 (UK & Ireland)
We are all unreliable narrators of the past.
At the mercy of our vanity, we repeatedly embellish small triumphs until they become glittering false memories and ruthlessly edit down humiliating failures to tolerable footnotes in our personal history.
Elegantly adapted from Julian Barnes' 2011 Booker Prize-winning novel by award-winning British playwright Nick Payne, The Sense Of An Ending is a delicately calibrated drama about a retired father, whose cosy suburban bubble is burst by evidence of a misdeed from his university days.
The past catches up with us all eventually.
In director Ritesh Batra's elegiac film, this ticking time bomb detonates with devastating force, driving a quietly spoken, unassuming man to stalk an old flame he wronged 50 years earlier.
The narrative oscillates between the two timeframes, piecing together fragmented details into a mosaic of regret and atonement.
Oscar winner Jim Broadbent is the film's emotional core, delivering a subtle, nuanced performance that radiates calm when events around him seem to be spiralling out of control.
He meticulously exposes chinks in his character's brittle armour.
When he plaintively informs his ex-wife (Harriet Walter), "I'm not an entirely redundant member of this family yet", his sadness and self-pity are palpable.
Anthony Webster (Broadbent) spends lazy days behind the counter of his vintage camera shop and long lunch breaks with ex-wife Margaret (Walter), with whom he is on amicable terms.
Their daughter Susie (Michelle Dockery) is heavily pregnant and Anthony attends antenatal classes in place of her partner.
Out of the blue, he receives a letter from a solicitor to inform him that Sarah Ford (Emily Mortimer), mother of his one-time girlfriend Veronica (Charlotte Rampling), has left him a treasure in her will.
The bequest turns out to be the diary of his school chum Adrian Finn (Joe Alwyn), who committed suicide at university after he became one point of a messy love triangle with Anthony and Veronica.
Reluctantly, Anthony harks back to his adolescence when he fell head over heels for the young Veronica (Freya Mavor) and holidayed with her family.
"You can pee into the basin at night if you wish," jokes Veronica's father David (James Wilby), showing young Anthony (Billy Howle) around his room.
Frustrated by Veronica's cool detachment and her reluctance to commit, Anthony yearns for reassurance.
"Does it have to head somewhere, our relationship?" responds Veronica, sowing the seeds of jealousy and rejection that will sprout bitter, poisonous fruit.
The Sense Of An Ending is constructed on the solid foundation of Barnes' novel.
The impetuosity of hormone-addled youth in flashbacks contrasts with the weary resignation of retirement, laced with gentle humour, like when one of elderly Anthony's friends gleefully asserts that Facebook "is a boon for us widowers".
The steady tick tock of time heals most wounds, but selective reminisce is a wonderful balm.
:: SWEARING :: SEX :: VIOLENCE :: RATING: 7/10
FAST & FURIOUS 8 (12A, 136 mins) Action/Thriller/Romance. Vin Diesel, Dwayne Johnson, Charlize Theron, Jason Statham, Michelle Rodriguez, Tyrese Gibson, Chris 'Ludacris' Bridges, Kurt Russell, Scott Eastwood, Nathalie Emmanuel. Director: F Gary Gray.
Released: April 12 (UK & Ireland)
At the end of Fast & Furious 7, the high-octane franchise bade emotional farewell to actor Paul Walker, who died during filming, to the haunting melody of See You Again by Wiz Khalifa featuring Charlie Puth.
The spirit of the handsome California-born star lingers in this turbo-charged eighth chapter, directed by F Gary Gray.
Walker's daredevil character, Brian O'Conner, is name-checked in two scenes: once when the team of renegade street racers clamours for inspiration ("Brian would know what to do") and again for an emotionally manipulative dedication that ensures Walker's memory is hard-wired into the ninth and tenth instalments, which will burn rubber in 2019 and 2021 respectively.
Common sense dictates that Fast & Furious 8 should be running on petrol fumes.
However, logic has seldom been pumped into the tanks of a franchise that has landed a flying Camaro on the back of a speeding yacht, jumped a supercar between skyscrapers in Abu Dhabi, and dragged a bank vault through the streets of Rio de Janeiro.
Gray's film doesn't reinvent the wheel rims, reverse engineering some outrageously overblown action sequences that are a whoop-inducing delight, including carmageddon in New York City with remote controlled vehicles tumbling out of a multi-storey car park as the chief villain snarls, "Let it rain!"
Fast & Furious 8 opens in sun-baked Havana where professional street racer Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) has settled down with wife Letty (Michelle Rodriguez).
Unfortunately, diabolical mastermind Cipher (Charlize Theron) - who proudly describes herself as "the crocodile at the watering hole" - has other plans.
She blackmails Dom into betraying his band of brothers.
"Your team's about to go up against the only thing they can't handle... you!" smirks Cipher.
On cue, Dom double-crosses Letty, Roman Pearce (Tyrese Gibson), Tej Parker (Chris 'Ludacris' Bridges) and hacker Ramsey (Nathalie Emmanuel).
Covert operative Mr Nobody (Kurt Russell) and his inexperienced deputy (Scott Eastwood) assemble a crack team to take down Cipher and Dom led by DSS agent Luke Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) and "tea and crumpet-eating criminal" Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham).
Fast & Furious 8 screeches around Cuba, Germany, America and Russia to deliver jaw-dropping set pieces on land and splintering ice.
Diesel, Johnson and Statham out-growl each other, while Oscar winner Helen Mirren chews scenery as Deckard's cor-blimey-guvnor muvva.
As a spectacle, Gray's film passes its MOT with flying colours.
However, as a coherent narrative full of believable characters and sinewy subplots, the eighth film is a clapped-out banger.
Dialogue clunks like a dodgy exhaust in Chris Morgan's script, like when Dom asks Letty if she wants children and her laughably verbose response is: "It's not about what I want or what you want, it's about why we haven't asked the question."
Fasten your seatbelts and shift the gears of your brain into neutral.
:: SWEARING :: SEX :: VIOLENCE :: RATING: 6/10