Never, is one reminded more, that life is a series of transitions, than in Yaron Zilberman’s “A Late Quartet”; four supremely talented musicians, after twenty-five years of performing together have reached a nadir in their professional and personal lives. Every actor brilliantly imbues their character with profound dignity. Philip Seymour Hoffman (2012 is his year) is second violinist, “Robert Gelbart”, married to “Juliette” (group’s violist), Catherine Keener; his life and love revolve around music and wife, but Juliette has kept her feelings in an impenetrable fortress throughout their marriage, even affecting their daughter “Alexandra” (simmering, sensual, Imogene Poots).
The primary focus of “A Late Quartet” is Beethoven’s Quartet No.14, Opus 131 in C sharp minor (actors playing parts themselves; Brentano Quartet, the major portions), a challenging forty -minute composition, seven movements, performed without a break; herculean stamina is required to execute this masterpiece. Hence, the metaphor for the disintegration of this ageing quartet. Christopher Walken gives a divine, poignant portrayal as the senior member of the group, cellist “Peter Mitchell”, diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, grieving the death of his operatic wife “Miriam” (mezzo-soprano Anne Sofie von Otter); the complexity of one of Beethoven’s last creations is reminiscent of the vicissitudes facing the quartet.
The youngest and stratospherically gifted first violinist “Daniel Lerner” is depicted by smoky, explosive Mark Ivanir; he is wound as tightly as the hairs on his bow; controlled but possessing combustible emotions; the slimmest trigger could ignite a conflagration of the highest, destructive order.
Hoffman’s performance is on par with Beethoven’s Quartet; he is maimed, bleeds, his heart is torn but with instrument in hand, the world and all its glories, vices disappear; affirming the magnitude, awe, power, genius of the second violinist.
THREE & 1/2 STARS!!!!
Just saw it. We loved it!
Thanks for commenting. Hoffman is at his peak; I cried with him! P.
This was one of the best films I have seen in a long time! All actors capture Beethoven’s music, so so well. I agree with you Hoffman is “the star”, but also young Imogene Poots!
Thank you for encouraging us all to see this fabulous film!
Inogene is gorgeous and in total control of her role! Thrilled you liked it! P.
We were very disappointed in this film. The performances were wonderful but it felt like a soap opera. The one night stand scene seemed so improbable, how that attractive girl was attracted to him. Why would he have that affair over the one remark of his wife about playing first or second violin. (never knew that about that in a quartet) Then the violinist and the daughter. It felt contrived and with the violinist going out the window. Just didn’t work. I wanted so much to like the film because I love classical music but the movie fell short.
Interesting and thought-provoking statement. I felt that the young women were powerfully attracted to the violinists; those relationships, superficial, but realistic.
The wife was never really “there” for her husband and had obviously has an “affair” or a major flirtation with the first violinist. Hence the daughter’s “revenge”.
Many share your valid opinion; I was swept away by the performances and felt they transcended the deficiencies of the plot.
You make me rethink! Thanks, P.
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