Tuesday, January 31, 2017

A Late Quartet (2012)

Rest in pace, Philip Seymour Hoffman.
The American actor died in 2014. He was 46.
A Late Quartet is one of his last films, released in 2012. This movie, the only feature credit to date from director Yaron Ziberman, is definitely worth seeing.
An esteemed classical quartet is about to fall apart after 25 years together.
Cellist Peter Mitchell (Christopher Walken) learns he has Parkinson's disease. He knows he won't be able to play much longer. Mitchell wants the group to continue without him. He's even selected a young talent to take his place.
His imminent departure sparks all kind of troubles with the remaining three members.
Second violinist Robert Gelbart (Hoffman) sees Mitchell's demise as the time for him to assert himself. He no longer wants to be second fiddle, so to speak, behind Daniel Lerner (Mark Ivanir). His wife, violist Juliette Gelbart (Catherine Keener) isn't impressed with her husband's poor sense of timing. She's also not keen for her hubby to take the first violin chair. The group isn't the only thing that appears in danger of being wiped out.
Meanwhile, Daniel is taking more than a teacher's interest in Alexandra, the daughter of Juliette and Robert. Yikes.
Mitchell finds the prospect of leaving the group tough enough. Even worse is seeing the quartet implode.
There's much to enjoy here.
The inner workings of a classical group isn't often explored. There's plenty of drama here. Personal relationships fray. Egos must be managed. Just how much control should one person have with the group? "I miss being excited," laments Robert. He also delivers this broadside to Juliette: "Do you really love me or am I just convenient?"
The cast is great. Walken takes a lot of heat for being a bit odd, but he's very good here.
Hoffman is solid. Keener gets ample time to display her acting chops. Juliette is getting rocked from all sides - a straying husband, an ungrateful daughter and a mentor who's experiencing a serious health issue.
A cameo by Wallace Shawn (Toy Story, the princess bride) is a treat. Hey, is it just a coincidence his scene with Walken is a restaurant? Could that be a nod to one of his most famous roles in My Dinner with Andre?
And, finally, there's much to savour about a soundtrack filled with classical music. Play on and see this film.
RATING: 8/10
FUN FACTS; Daniel Lerner has come a long way. His first film credit is Iron Eagle II. Delta Force 3: The Killing Game followed a few years later. Then, he appeared in schindler's list. Much better.

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