A Late Quartet (2012)

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We’ve heard of dysfunctional families, choirs and a cappella groups but when it comes to string quartets, it seems like the more mature audience are now the key demographic in driving traffic to the local cinema. The debut feature film from documentary director Yaron Zilberman is an example of how to bring drama through its classical music, not to mention the collective power of its main cast.

A Late Quartet stars Philip Seymour Hoffman, Mark Ivanir, Catherine Keener and Christopher Walken as a world-renowned string quartet, who are about to start the latest concert season. When cellist Peter (Walken) is diagnosed with Parkinson’s, drama and tension enfold between his associates, married couple Juliette and Robert (Kenner and Hoffman respectively) and perfectionist Daniel (Ivanir).

As the film is aimed towards an audience of a certain age range, Zilberman takes the typical melodramas that normally grace our screens and sets them to a slower, toned-down pace – making it more suitable to accompany the featured notes of Beethoven.  The plot seems to develop into a power/love triangle of sorts and the emotions evoked through the arising conflicts, initially reserved as they may, eventually brew into a storm of powerhouse performances.

The cast each bring a degree of excellence in their power-struggling characters. Walken displays his gift for long eloquent speeches and Ivanir (first seen in Schindler’s List (1993)) shows that even though he has dedicated his efforts into the quartet, there is more to life than music even though it comes in the form of Juliette and Peter’s daughter Alexandra (Imogen Poots).

Hoffman and Keener are great on-screen; mostly conflicted between Peter’s ambitions and Kenner’s wish to keep the peace amongst the quartet – the idea of being told that ‘you are the best at being second-best’  does leaves a bitter taste.

Although the tone and pacing may not set the screen alight, A Late Quartet has sensitivity, sophistication and a strong, watchable cast ensemble.

A Late Quartet is out in UK Cinemas on Friday 5th April.

Director: Yaron Zilberman
Writers: Seth Grossman, Yaron Zilberman
Stars: Philip Seymour Hoffman, Christopher Walken, Catherine Keener, Imogen Poots, Mark Ivanir
Runtime: 105 min
Country: USA

Film Rating: ★★★½☆

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