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


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.


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


    Katell Quillévéré's family-based drama follows Suzanne, a teenage mother who falls for a gangster

  • Film4

    The Purge

    Ethan Hawke stars in James DeMonaco's drama about a sanctioned night where all crime is legal

  • Film4

    Me and You on Film4

    Premiere of Bernardo Bertoluccis drama about a boy and his half-sister who run away together.

  • Film4

    Philadelphia on Film4

    Denzel Washington and Oscar-winning Tom Hanks star in Jonathan Demme's powerful drama.

  • Channel 4 Blog

    BIFA brings 2015 nominated films to cinemas

    BIFA-nominated films including the Film4-backed 45 Years, The Lobster, Macbeth, Amy and Ex Machina will be available in cinemas nationwide from 23 November in a special public screenings event. The

  • Channel 4 Blog

    Film4-backed films receive 41 nominations at the BIFAs

    Film4 has received a total of 41 nominations for the films it has backed at this year¿s British Independent Film Awards (BIFAs), with the nomination lists for the Best British Film and Best Director a

Register with

Personalise your Film4 experience

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

or Register

Tweets @Film4

  • "It's 0600 hours. What does the 'O' stand for? O my God, it's early!" Up next at 1.25am, Good Morning, Vietnam.

  • "Love sure is a funny thing." Coming up at 11.35pm, Jim Carrey and Ewan McGregor star in I Love You Phillip Morris.

  • Our late-night highlight at 1.25am is Oscar-nominated black comedy Good Morning, Vietnam, starring Robin Williams.

  • At 11.35pm, Jim Carrey is a swindler who would do anything for love in con-rom-com gem I Love You Phillip Morris.

  • Premiere alert! On 15th December, we're screening The Possibilities Are Endless, a documentary about @edwyncollins.