A Late Quartet review

This is very much an actors piece for middle-aged, middle brow audiences. It's not one for the younger crowd but don't be put off by that. All four leads are superb. As members of a classical string quartet there is not a false note to be found in their performances. Ivanir is the cold instigator of the group who got them all together 25 years ago to first play. Hoffman and Keener are the married couple experiencing relationship difficulties, while Walken is the elder statesman of the team, their former music teacher, who announces his retirement because he has contracted parkinson's disease.

His imminent departure sets off a train of troubles for the protagonists. Wounds are opened, jealousy and rivalry is aroused, adultery takes place. It would spoil it to spell out the details for you, but rest assured that in this sophisticated setting of uptown New York, their dilemmas become ever more engrossing as the narrative develops. To be sure it takes a while to get going – director Zilberman is certainly not one to rush things along – but the actors are so good at delineating their respective problems that one is entirely engrossed in their travails come the end.

Walken for once plays a nice guy, the most sympathetic character in the whole piece and he's terrific at trying to stay above the fray as the other members battle with each other. Poots, sporting a flawless American accent, is equally fine as the beautifully manipulative daughter of Hoffman and Keener, alternately fearless then vulnerable. Ivanir is smoothly charismatic as the one- track-minded music scholar, his feelings uprooted by the introduction of love in his life. See this then for their excellent, exquisite work and this quiet, soulful drama ends up a most satisfying and rewarding endeavour. Recommended.

A Late Quartet at IMDb

Stuart O'Connor is the Managing Editor of Screenjabber, the movie review website he co-founded with Neil Davey far too many years ago. He likes all genres, as long as the film is good (although he does enjoy the occasional bad "guilty pleasure"), and drinks way too much coffee.

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