A Late Quartet (2012)

A Late Quartet (2012)
  • Time: 105 min
  • Genre: Drama | Music
  • Director: Yaron Zilberman
  • Cast: Christopher Walken, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Catherine Keener


When the beloved cellist of a world-renowned string quartet is diagnosed with a life threatening illness, the group’s future suddenly hangs in the balance as suppressed emotions, competing egos and uncontrollable passions threaten to derail years of friendship and collaboration. As they are about to play their 25th anniversary concert — quite possibly their last — only their intimate bond and the power of music can preserve their legacy.

One comment

  • A stellar cast do their best with what could have been an interesting exploration of the professional and emotional lives of top-class musicians. Unfortunately, cack-handed directing and writing means ‘A Late Quartet’ lacks subtlety and brings suspended disbelief crashing to the ground.

    Such suspension is necessary if, for example, we are to take Christopher Walken (doing his best to smother his trade-mark voice but admittedly adding a much needed third dimension to his character) seriously as a world class Cellist… The film failed to sell me the world of classical music and the lives of these characters. ‘A Late Quartet’ prefers excruciating exposition and hammy facts about Beethoven, which at times render the dialogue copy and paste from Wikipedia, to a sense of tone and genuine observation. Sautet’s ‘Un Coeur en Hiver’, for example, admirably achieves what ‘A Late Quartet’ fails to do; namely inducting an audience into the exclusive world of classical music and high culture without treating them like idiots. The result is a beautiful film which allows the music and its characters to take centre stage, and I longed for ‘A Late Quartet’ to do the same and deliver on its potential.

    However, it fails to strike a consistent tone. At one point a scene involving Poots, Keener and Ivanir comes dangerously close to descending into a farce straight out of a lowest-common-denominator RomCom, in just one of many examples where the film contrived to undermine itself.

    Nonetheless, ‘A Late Quartet’ is not terrible and I was entertained. It offers flashes of sincerity and a few touching moments which I would attribute to the quality of the actors and an interesting conceit. However, I found myself laughing at it much more than I was moved by it. A film which is definitely hard to take as seriously as it wants to be taken.

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