With a dramatic swell much like a effective piece of music, the power of film always brings an interesting variety of emotions to our local movie theatres that can affect us in a variety of different ways. It’s time to embrace A Late Quartet.
This film looks at the complex relationship held by a world renowned string quartet on the eve of their 25th anniversary together who struggle to stay together as its members, portrayed by Christopher Walken, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Catherine Keener and Mark Ivanir, come face to face with an incomprehensible life and career change as one of their own faces a horrible illness and a forced retirement. The rest grapple with their own hidden fears and desires that come to the surface with this news as they try to sustain what was 25 years in the making or move on to a new chapter in their lives.
Director Yaron Zilberman treats us to a remarkably personable and relatable film as anyone who has witnessed the dissolution of any kind of relationship can attest to. Using his lens with a deliberate tone and pace, the world Zilberman crafts isn’t one of overwrought melodrama or tired script clichés as the narrative suggests, but one of intense interpersonal relationships that strain at the unspoken emotions and feelings that have never been resolved after so many years. However, much like a piece of music, a film like this can only go as far as the quality of those playing it, and this ensemble cast makes some beautiful music together.
Easily his best performance in years, Christopher Walken delivers a heartfelt turn as a veteran cellist staring down the end of his career, showing that this veteran character actor often typecast as a little bit wacky and off center, still has a few tricks up his sleeve that just might earn him some gold during awards season. All four leads shine as the ensemble navigates the relationships that are inexorably intertwined after so many years together at each other’s sides, but it is Walken that will keep you glued to the screen throughout.
A Late Quartet is a truly fine example of how quality professionals can breathe life into what could have been a fairly boring story and is highly recommended.
Cast: Christopher Walken, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Catherine Keener, Mark Ivanir
Directed by: Yaron Zilberman
Top image: A scene from A Late Quartet. Courtesy Mongrel Media.