Sunday, 21 April 2013

Film Review: A Late Quartet (2012)

Director: Yaron Zilberman
Writers: Seth Grossman, Yaron Zilberman
Stars: Christopher Walken, Catherine Keener, Philip Seymour Hoffman and Mark Ivanir

The beauty of A Late Quartet is in its ability to allow the audience to gain an insight into the professionalism of a Fugue String Quartet, a world-famous ensemble who have been playing together for many years. We see the complexities between their music and in turn, their lives, when cracks appear and repressed feelings are released.

The film doesn’t assume its audience knows anything about classic music nor do we have to appreciate the skill and talent of the characters and their work. Unlike some films where the world of the characters is explained in great detail so we, assumedly, do not become disengaged, this film allows the world to flow like the music they play.

Thematically the film doesn’t offer anything new; divorce, illness, affairs, parent-children relationships and make ups/break ups provide the story with the majority of its running time. This is the film’s main criticism because more engaging or original sub-plots would have lifted A Late Quartet out of predictability and into genuine ‘best of the year’ candidacy. This is a shame because, despite never becoming a bore, the cast and acting on display is sheer perfection.

The combination of Philip Seymour Hoffman, Christopher Walken, and Catherine Keener work as perfectly on screen as the music their characters perform on stage. The quality of these actors, along with the relatively unknown but equally as impressive Mark Ivanir, lead the audience to fully believe they have been playing together for years and not just picking up the instruments between takes. It’s a rare treat which is greatly missed in cinema releases these days; just watching actors work can be more exciting than anything created digitally and A Late Quartet is a perfect example of the joy great acting can produce, regardless of story.

Stop thinking for yourself verdict: For anyone with an appreciation for patient films driven by sublime acting, look no further than here.

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