CHANNEL 4 4SEVEN E4 MORE4 FILM4 4MUSIC 4oD

Viewing your Watchlist and recommended content requires Javascript

  • 15
  • Drama
  • 2012
  • 105 mins

A Late Quartet

A Late Quartet, courtesy Artificial Eye

Click 'play clip' above to watch exclusive video and trailer

Courtesy Curzon Film World

Synopsis

A celebrated New York string quartet – Christopher Walken, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Catherine Keener and Mark Ivanir – struggle to hold their group together after one of them receives a piece of devastating news. Co-written and directed by Yaron Zilberman.

About

For a first-time feature director, Yaron Zilberman really hit the jackpot with his cast for A Late Quartet. Christopher Walken, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Catherine Keener and Mark Ivanir star as a world-famous string quartet whose personal and professional lives are thrown into turmoil when their oldest member – Walken – is diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. It’s a stuffy sort of story, with more than the odd melodramatic tendency, but in the hands of these four talented players it becomes a stirringly authentic study of the complex and often fragile ties that hold long-term relationships together.

Walken gives his most nuanced performance to date as the fatherly cellist, Peter, exuding waves of compassion and melancholy from those icy blue eyes more commonly seen staring out of some of cinema’s scariest psychopaths. Seymour Hoffman does what he does better than almost anyone else ever, managing to be at once loveable and loathsome as second violinist Robert, who’s sick of being overlooked both in the group and in his marriage to viola-player Juliette – played with supreme understatement by Keener. Inexplicably-underused Ukrainian actor Mark Ivanir (Schindler’s List, The Good Shepherd) completes the foursome as perfectionist first violinist Daniel.

Shot on-location in a very wintry New York, the film has an almost documentary feel at times – Zilberman made his name with the award-winning documentary Watermarks – and often gives a fly-on-the-wall style glimpse into the lives of Manhattan’s privileged classical music set. The fact that the actors all had intensive tuition in their characters’ chosen instruments makes the concert and rehearsal scenes feel all the more real – no cunning camera angles or cutting to close-ups of professional musicians needed here.

Despite a few unsalvageably duff notes in a sub-plot involving Daniel hooking up with Robert and Juliette’s daughter (rendered both headstrong and vulnerable by the excellent Imogen Poots), the accomplished performances gradually draw you into the emotional quagmire of the plot, before throwing you in at the deep end with a rousing concert-hall finale. Like Beethoven’s famously intense and hectic Opus 131 in C# Minor, a recurring motif in the film, you’re left wondering just how – and whether – the players will make it to the end of the film without it all falling apart, and that’s what keeps you captivated until the last note fades.

Cast & Connections

  • Actor: Wallace Shawn, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Christopher Walken, Imogen Poots, Catherine Keener, Mark Ivanir
  • Director: Yaron Zilberman
  • Writer: Seth Grossman, Yaron Zilberman
  • Producer: Yaron Zilberman, Mandy Tagger, Vanessa Coifman, Tamar Sela, David Faigenblum, Emanuel Michael
  • Photographer: Frederick Elmes
  • Composer: Angelo Badalamenti

In a nutshell

A pathos-laden chamber piece poignantly played by an ensemble of actors at the peak of their powers.

by Rebecca Davies

Latest from Film4...

  • Film4 Stone

    Stone

    Robert De Niro, Ed Norton and Milla Jovovich star in this drama thriller about a convicted arsonist trying to manipulate a parole officer with the help of his beautiful wife

  • Film4 Pusher

    Pusher

    Nicolas Winding Refn's Danish crime thriller is given a British makeover starring Richard Coyle and Agyness Deyn

  • Film4 Men In Black 3

    Men In Black 3 on Film4

    When Agent K (Tommy Lee Jones) is killed in the past by a time-travelling villain, Agent J (Will Smith) travels back to 1969 to save him, and teams up with a younger version of Agent K (Josh Brolin) on Film4

  • Film4 Serenity

    Science-Fiction Season on Film4

    The future starts here! Film4's 2015 season of science fiction features classics of the genre, old and new

Register with Film4.com

Personalise your Film4 experience

  • Set film reminders
  • Build your watchlist
  • Get film suggestions

or Register

Tweets @Film4

  • Coming up next at 12.30am, Paul Walker becomes embroiled in a dangerous conspiracy in Johannesburg in action-packed thriller Vehicle 19.

  • Horror fans! Our late-night highlight at 2.10am is gory supernatural thriller The Last Exorcism: http://t.co/aAubEAgVG2

  • Coming up next at 10.45pm, Richard Coyle gets in over his head in stylish, London-set crime thriller Pusher. https://t.co/qIxO4wdDYK

  • The @Film4insider-backed thriller Catch Me Daddy is in cinemas now! Here's our interview with the cast & crew: https://t.co/wgfoOlhEjN

  • "Save the planet. Whenever I've read that bumper sticker I've had to laugh." Up next @ 9pm, Vin Diesel stars in sci-fi adventure Babylon AD.

Share