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

    Win Win

    Paul Giamatti stars as a struggling lawyer and volunteer wrestling coach who takes in his client's troubled grandson

  • Film4 The Drop

    The Drop

    Tom Hardy, James Gandolfini and Noomi Rapace star in a feature-length adaptation of a short crime story by Dennis Lehane (Mystic River, Shutter Island), directed by Belgian filmmaker Michael R. Roskam (Bullhead)

  • Channel 4 Blog

    Joe Cunningham's 11 recommendations for LFF 14

    Unfortunately I haven¿t been jet setting around the world this year to the various exciting international film festivals, but that¿s what makes the London Film Festival¿s compilation approach to progr

  • Channel 4 Blog

    Michael Leader's 11 recommendations for LFF 2014

    One of the best things about the London Film Festival¿s smorgasbord approach to programming is that, amongst the world premieres and gala screenings, there¿s an eclectic collection of exciting films o

Rent now on Film4od

Available to rent for £2.99

Register with Film4.com

Personalise your Film4 experience

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

or Register

Tweets @Film4

  • @sizer_tom The Hurricanes! That takes us back... http://t.co/BX008XCTsY

  • Hullo, night owls! We're screening Stephen Chow's martial arts footie flick Shaolin Soccer at 1.05am. That's 30 minutes 'til kick off!

  • @JonnyUppingham Hi Jonny. Sorry, due to operational reasons, there have been changes to how +1's broadcast and some have lost the channel.

  • "I've come to realise that you can't have a country without people. And there are no people here." At 11.15pm, comedy horror Zombieland.

  • In an hour at 11.15pm, Jesse Eisenberg, Woody Harrelson & Emma Stone are roadtripping across the Undead States in horror comedy Zombieland.

Share