Going through life knowing that you're a bad person—being aware of your selfish, hateful decisions—is nearly impossible. Some people embrace it and warn everyone they meet that they're a bitch or an asshole. Some spend their energy thinking only about others in a desperate attempt to be perfect. Many can find comfort in knowing that they're trying their best. And whatever approach is taken, people end up rewriting their story as they participate in imagined arguments and convince themselves that they are the real victims.
Amnesia helps with this. One brain cannot possibly hold decades of knowledge and experience. Things slip. Those memories probably weren't that crucial anyway, and most importantly, they were painful so they had to go. What happens afterward is the central question of Ritesh Batra's The Sense of an Ending, which is based on the novel by Julian Barnes.
The film explores a lie that the protagonist (played by Jim Broadbent) has been telling himself for years. The plot is full of sex, betrayal, and death, and the acting is lovely. Emily Mortimer is on-screen for only a few brief moments, and she makes impeccable use of every second; each twitch and motion is fascinatingly full of character. And even though the central themes are regret and nostalgia, Broadbent's performance never settles for boring angst—it's all about disbelief and incredulity.
But then we get a Hollywood ending that offers a clear change in character and some examples of atonement set to uplifting music. (Unlike the book, which ends with a feeling of great unrest.) The book's ending is truer to the character—an asshole who we will probably never really understand. Most people who live in the land of make-believe will stay there. If each and every one of a person's stories portrays them as either the hero or the victim, you cannot trust them. If they will not admit to a single mistake, and instead hold fast to their carefully constructed lies, turn and run from them. They will cling to their alternative facts until they die.