A Late Quartet begins with the band appearing on stage and getting ready to perform.
But Peter (Christopher Walken, below) feels his time with the band is coming to an end, after 25 years. This is because he’s just learned that he’s been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, and while his doctor tells him he may be able to continue another season or two, he doesn’t want to do it half-baked so decides to call it a day sooner rather than later. He is the quartet’s cellist and Peter wants them to replace him with real-life cellist Nina Lee, a member of the Brentano String Quartet, who actually play Beethoven’s Opus 131 in this film, which is a definivite piece of the soundtrack.
He’s still coming to terms with the fact that it’s almost a year since his wife, Miriam (Anne Sofie von Otter) passed away.
Of the other members, Robert (Philip Seymour Hoffman) plays second violin, but secretly longs to take the solo every now and then, much to lead violin player Daniel’s (Mark Ivanir) disagreement. At the same time, Daniel is teaching student Alexandra (Imogen Poots, below), Robert and Juliette’s (Catherine Keener, whose character plays viola) daughter, or is there more to their relationship than just the only kind of ‘fiddling’ that should be going on? Meanwhile, Robert and Juliette, themselves, are having their own marital difficulties.
All the while, none of them want Peter to leave, but you can’t stop the human condition no matter how horrible it is.
So, there are arguments all round, which threaten to destroy the quartet.
A Late Quartet has fantastic performances from all concerned, as you’d expect – and Christopher Walken is a man who could just sit there reading the phone book and it’d sound interesting – even if it is very plot-lite and, at times, predictable. But the problems aren’t really problems because it’s the interplay of great actors that you’ve really come to see, here, and almost two hours of that is certainly worthy of your time.
Running time: 107 minutes
Released: March 22nd 2013
Widescreen: 2.35:1 (Hawk Scope)
Director: Yaron Zilberman
Producers: Vanessa Coifman, David Faigenblum, Emanuel Michael, Tamar Sela, Mandy Tagger and Yaron Zilberman
Screenplay: Seth Grossman and Yaron Zilberman
Music: Angelo Badalamenti
Peter Mitchell: Christopher Walken
Juliette Gelbart: Catherine Keener
Robert Gelbart: Philip Seymour Hoffman
Alexandra Gelbart: Imogen Poots
Daniel Lerner: Mark Ivanir
Gideon Rosen: Wallace Shawn
Pilar: Liraz Charhi
Dr. Nadir: Madhur Jaffrey
Miriam: Anne Sofie von Otter
Herself: Nina Lee
Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.