Much like we can't always go to see our favorite musicians perform live whenever we want, we can't always make it out to the movies. However much like music, it doesn't mean we catch up on things in the comfort of our own home. "A Late Quartet" is an emotional look at the complexities and passions that can run through a relationship that has lasted nearly 25 years.
"A Late Quartet" looks at the complex relationship held by a world renowned string quartet on the eve of their 25thanniversary together who struggle to stay together as its members, portrayed by Christopher Walken, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Catherine Keener and Mark Ivanir, come face to face with an incomprehensible life and career change as one of their own faces a horrible illness and a forced retirement. The rest grapple with their own hidden fears and desires that come to the surface with this news as they try to sustain what was 25 years in the making or move on to a new chapter in their lives.
In his first trip in the director's chair for a feature length fictional narrative; Yaron Zilberman treats us to a remarkably personable and relatable film as anyone who has witnessed the dissolution of any kind of relationship can attest to. Using his lens with a deliberate tone and pace, the world Zilberman crafts isn’t one of overwrought melodrama or tired script clichés as the narrative suggests, but one of intense interpersonal relationships that strain at the unspoken emotions and feelings that have never been resolved after so many years. Zilberman does a very good job and keeping us riveted and emotionally engaged through much like the strains of a beautiful musical score that takes the viewer through the entire emotional spectrum. However, much like a piece of music, a film like this can only go as far as the quality of those playing it, and this ensemble cast makes some beautiful music together.
Easily his best performance in years, Christopher Walken delivers a heartfelt turn as a veteran cellist staring down the end of his career, showing that this veteran character actor often typecast as a little bit wacky and off center, still has a few tricks up his sleeve and pulls off a remarkable performance. All four leads (Walken, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Catherine Keener and Mark Ivanir) all shine as the ensemble navigates the relationships that are inexorably intertwined after so many years together at each other’s sides making for some truly gripping drama at various times, but it really is Walken that will keep you glued to the screen throughout.
"A Late Quartet" is ultimately a fine example of some out and out professional performers breathing life into what could ended up as a little dull but was actually an emotionally stunning little film that will surprise you on DVD if you let it.
4 out of 5 stars.