79 of 81 people found the following review helpful
"A Late Quartet" (2012 release, 105 min.) brings the story of the (fictional) "Fugue String Quartet", portrayed by Philip Seymour Hoffman as Robert, Christopher Walken as Peter, Catherine Keener as Juliette (wife of Robert) and Marc Ivanir as Daniel. As the movie begins, we learn that Peter has the beginnings of Parkinson's disease and possibly the end of his musical career. Peter contemplates a replacement so as to assure the contunity of the quartet. Robert at that point voices his long-held frustration of "just" being second violinist and would like to share first chair with Daniel, much to Daniel's dismay. Robert and Juliette get into a huge argument about it and when he feels like she doesn't "have his back", Robert has a ill-fated affair with a younger woman. Juliette finds out and promply kicks him out of the house. Meanwhile Daniel fall for the charms of Alexandra (daughter of Robert and Juliette). At this point we are about half-way into the movie. Will Peter recover from his illness to bring one last live performance? Will Robert and Juliette reunite? Is Daniel's relationship with Alexandra doomed? Will the Fugue String Quartet survive? To tell you more would ruin your viewing experience, you'll just have to see for yourself how it all plays out.
Several comments: the acting performances are ACE throughout this movie, none more so than from Philip Seymore Hoffman as the wounded husband and frustrated musician, and in my book better than his much hyped performance in "The Master" earlier this year. But check out also Christopher Walken as he stares into his mortality, just superb. If you don't care much for classical music, save yourself the trouble as classical music is front and center throughout this movie (the CD soundtrack of this movie, bringing original music from Angelo Badalamenti, best known for his "Twin Peaks" work, and the other assorted classical music is superb too).
Bottom line, I enjoyed this movie both for the music and the acting performances, and hence "A Late Quartet" is HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!
43 of 44 people found the following review helpful
This movie my favorite film so far this year. The all star cast, including Christopher Walken and Catherine Keener, give a stunning performance. As a violinist, I can appreciate not only he the dramatic storyline but the struggles of the musicians as well. When a world famous quartet is about to lose one of their own, a lot of unspoken and painful feelings are brought to the front burner. There is competition and resentment and friendships that took twenty-five years to build are threatened. This is a film that will make you cry but there are also moments that will make you laugh. The music was as beautiful as the storyline and I enjoyed the classical pieces interwoven with the movie. This film is a must see for anyone who enjoys a good drama but especially for anyone who has even been involved with or loved music
17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
The moments when and idea for a story, the intelligence of a script to tell it, the sensitivity of the director to make it work, and the cast of extraordinary actors to make it visual come all too infrequently these days in the films that cross our theater screens. A LATE QUARTET is such a complete success on so many levels that it should be considered a standard for filmmaking excellence. It is cerebral, yes, it is best appreciated by people who are involved in some way with classical music even if that be solely as an audience, but the dynamics of this little `community' of people drawn together by a lasting contract to rehearse and perform for the better part of their time and the effect of physical proximity and the risks of intellectual/artistic distances have rarely been so exquisitely painted.
The honored Fugue Quartet has been living and performing together for 25 years: first violin Daniel Lerner (Ukrainian American actor Mark Ivanir), second violin Robert Gelbart (Philip Seymour Hoffman), cellist Peter Mitchell (Christopher Walken), and violist Juliette Gelbart (Catherine Keener) make such perfect music together that we would never guess their lives are askew. Peter is diagnosed as having Parkinson's Disease and understands that his performing days are now severely limited; the Gelbart's marriage is at risk because of the tatters of time and the dealing with daughter Alexandra (Imogen Poots) who reacts to her history of being an alone child by entering into a physical affair with obsessive Daniel and Robert's ill-advised one night stand with the young beautiful Pilar (Liraz Charhi); Robert's surfacing jealousy of wanting to be first violin: the struggle with whether the quartet should disband due to Peter's illness or continue with a new cellist. All of this complex interplay of human relationships is underlined by the quartet's rehearing of Beethoven's String Quartet No. 14, opus 131 - a long quartet of seven movements played without interval. It is a sensitively drawn allegory that takes us all the way to the end of the film.
In addition to the bravura acting of the four lead actors there are side stories that are enormously touching: the affair between Alexandra and Daniel, the conflict between Alexandra and her absentee mother (a brilliant scene), the schism between Robert and Juliette as the foundation of their marriage begins to crumble, and the extraordinarily sensitive moment when Peter longs for his deceased wife Miriam - first while listening to a recording of Miriam singing Marietta's Lied from Korngold's opera `Die Tote Stadt' and then as the image of Miriam (Anne Sofie von Otter) is seen and heard in is mind.
Each of the actors in this masterfully crafted film is astonishingly fine. If there were an Oscar for Ensemble this would have won hands down, but the performances by Christopher Walken (the finest of his career) and Philip Seymour Hoffman are exemplary and the characters Catherine Keener, Mark Ivanir and Imogen Poots create are utterly unforgettable. The highest recommendation for this work - it is a film every sensitive person should see.
Grady Harp, March 13
27 of 32 people found the following review helpful
on February 5, 2013
A surprisingly simple yet "complicated" movie that IMHO was one of 2012's best. The aging leader and cellist (played by Christopher Walken) of a classical "String Quartet" finds that he must retire due to the onset of Parkinson's Disease. What now? Well, the "second violinist" (for 25 years ...) played by Philip Seymour Hoffman takes the opportunity to suggest to the first violinist that he'd "kinda like to play first violin on occasion." The first violinist (played by Mark Ivanhir) a true virtuoso and perfectionist is aghast. The second violinist's wife (and viola player rounding out the Quartet) who's spent her entire adult life playing in this Quartet and, in fact, only met her husband through their playing in the Quartet together kinda agrees with the first violinist :-) ... What now? ;-) What a GREAT story about human / Community dynamics and Life ;-) ;-)
14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on March 8, 2013
This is superb movie. You'll need some liking or even tolerance for heavy classical music in the form of a string quartet. The centerpiece is Beethoven's opus 131. The title of the movie, "Late Quartet" word plays on the music, a very late composition, and the characters of the fictional fugue quartet, in the twilight of its career. Walken's character, the cellist, starts out with a monologue about the quartet op. 131, one of the last things Beethoven ever wrote. It is a monster of a piece. In the world of quartets, all of which have 4 movements, this one has 7. I leave aside why 7 - some mystical, or ancient number symbolism perhaps? The movements range from delight, youth, rage, pity, extreme tenderness, a dance, to a chilling look at mortality. One reviewer of quartet op 131 said it is like Dante's Divine Comedy; it has everything. A problem is that its markings demand must be played without interruption between movements, like life itself the quartet must be played without interruption. Walken's character notes that these markings make it impossible to play. As time goes on, with all the strenuous bowing and plucking, the instruments begin to get out of tune each with itself, then with each other. Life is much like this. The quartet is a metaphor for life itself, "Late Quartet" mirrors for us, through incredible music the stages of our own lives as they pass one to the other, bow strings fraying, out of tune episodes overlapping. The director maintains this wonderfully sensitive metaphor throughout the film.
The ensemble of actors is remarkable, as is that of the musicians playing the parts. I wonder if the ensemble can represent our own internal lives, set musically. Each of us has a highly fastidious, technically brilliant first violin inside us, as well as a second violin craving more spotlight, a patient, soulful supportive viola and a visionary cello at the core, who is losing grip on his/her art. Some will find this suggestion to be too much of a stretch for the film, but I strongly doubt the metaphor is missing from Beethoven's score. "Played without break", what an impossible direction, but life itself goes forward this way, with all our parts, our pasts, our joys, our sorrows, our aging grating at each other.
The performances of the actors are a delight, the music even more so.
If you wish a performance of the quartet, see the Cypress String quartet's 2012 offering.
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I cannot recommend this film and its music highly enough.
If you don't like classical, go for Justin Bieber and his baggy pants and be happy, you're missing something spectacular.
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
While I never saw this movie in the theater, I heard that it was a very well produced and directed film. in watching the film itself I have to say that it was very well done. You have to know that the movie itself is a bit deeper than I would have first anticipated, but this deeper nature within the film is offset by the amazing acting of both Christopher Walken and Philip Seymour Hoffman. You're drawn into the cell and into the life of Christopher Walken's character and the medical issues that he is dealing with that is leading to his retirement. Yet, the movie so much more than just the drama of the health issues surrounding Walken's character. The movie itself explores so much about human relationships and group dynamics and a it is through these relationships that you truly get to understand the importance of the Quartet itself within the film. overall this is a movie that I would encourage all to watch as it is full of amazing acting performances as well as a plot and underlying message that should be shared with all.
*I received a copy of this Blu-Ray in return for an honest review, but this did not impact the words that I shared with all of you above*
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on December 8, 2013
Format: Amazon Instant VideoVerified Purchase
It works beautifully as a story of putting aside one's personal drama for the sake of one's art and the continuity of an artistic tradition, in this case a string quartet. In terms of the personal story, I almost wish the plot had focused on the trio of Robert [Hoffman ] , Jules [ Keener] and Peter [ Walken ]. The dynamic between them was fascinating and the performances beautifully nuanced. Additionally, it would have made for a tighter plot.
Though young musician Alex and older, perfectionistic first violin Daniel are competently played, their story is cliched - older man becomes liberated by way of relationship with a young free spirit, and the intrusion of their affair has a distracting effect.
However, watching the interaction between Keener's Jules and Walken's Peter is fascinating. He is the spiritual leader of the group, her surrogate father and her rock. He is the one she interacts with physically, feels for, weeps over and is most attached to. In the end her regard is so great, she volunteers to care for him once he becomes immobilized by Parkinson's. While she is invariably kind and polite to the others, he is her greatest love. Strangely her husband, Robert [ Hoffman ], is more envious of Daniel and hurt by his own position as second violin and the fact that she endorses it than he is of her love for Peter. Peter, a most urbane and intelligent man, loved, still loves and remains faithful to his own recently deceased wife. He is whole, though ill--but the dynamic is tragic for Jules--and even more so for the unloved Robert.
Though the end comes too quickly, is too pat, and the resolution of conflict is left to the viewers imagination, I still enjoyed this movie and wish there were more like it, focusing on the lives of those who bring us the pleasure of experiencing their art.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on July 21, 2013
Format: DVDVerified Purchase
Peter(Christopher Walken), the cellist for the Fugue String Quartet, has been diagnosed with early stage Parkinson's Disease. He tells the other members of the group his intentions to retire and he is already grooming a replacement. This sets up a string of events within the quartet both professional and personal. There has been a percolating resentment by Robert(Philip Seymour Hoffman), the second violinist, toward Daniel(Mark Ivanir), the first violinist. Robert feels he and Daniel should alternate chairs as well as take more artistic chances. Juliette(Catherine Keener), violist and wife of Robert, sits by in angry silence. Outside the group Robert has a one night stand with a flamenco dancer which Juliette finds out about and throws him out. Daniel meanwhile is developing a relationship with Alex(Imogen Poots), daughter of Robert and Juliette. This may all sound a little melodramatic but it's not really. The inner workings of the quartet mirror those of any group of people who've worked together a long time. The cast is uniformly excellent but Walken is the glue that holds the film together. While he's dealing with his illness as the sage elder and de facto leader of the group it is he who has to navigate the quartet through the rough waters. I won't even pretend that I know much about classical music. My attraction to the film was the presence of Walken. I can correlate this film to the dissolution of pop groups like the Beatles who became undone when internal and external distractions caused them to go their separate ways. That said this film is very accessible to classical music non-enthusiasts.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on April 6, 2014
Format: DVDVerified Purchase
Peter, the cellist and founder of a world-class string quartet (played by Christopher Walken) learns that he has Parkinson's disease, and his playing days will soon end. Peter must come to terms with his mortality and his desired legacy. When Peter announces his plans to retire, the quartet either has to find a new cellist - this is what Peter would like - or they must disband.
The second violinist (Robert, played by Philip Seymour Hoffman) is married to the the violist (Juliet ). They have a talented daughter, Alexandra (Imogen Poots), who is a protege of the first violinist, Daniel (Mark Ivanir), which only complicates matters.
Daniel had never married; he has devoted his life to the quartet. Robert and Juliet question the acceptance of the roles they have held for so long, and the crisis in the quartet leads to a crisis in their marriage. Meanwhile, their daughter is coming into her own, and discovering her own abilities and desires.
In many ways, the quartet was a four-way marriage, and as it unravels, each member has to discover who they are and what they want.
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on February 9, 2013
Format: DVDVerified Purchase
This film deals with a fictional classical string quartet. They are trying to work their way through Beethoven's astonishing Op 131 string quartet. Those not familiar with classical music can still enjoy this movie because its not just about the music they are playing. Its about the player's realtionships and what it takes for four people to come together and have their performances express the intentions of the composer. This not just deals with playing the notes but the player's ability to express the meaning, emotion and nuances that the composer intended. It will never be possible to get in to Beethoven's head, so to speak, but great players can come close. The problem that is happening in this movie is that the behavior of the players threatens to dismantel the quartet. One who is married has a one night stand. Another takes up a doomed relationship with the daugther of two that are in the ensemble. The key player, played by Christopher Walken (a great performance) is dealing with the onset of Parkinsons and has to deal with his situation and what the group needs to do to stay together. The whole thing becomes a real mess but, as viewers will see, the players figure out how to get it together (we think) and go on. At the end I wondered if they could really stay together. But, during a performance when Waklen has to call it quits they all touch the score of Op 131 meaning that great music will sound great only if the players are unified and can work togther. Also, as Walken says in the movie, the players have to respect the music. This is a good movie and classical buffs will get special pleaasure out of it. I gave it four stars out of five as I thought the story is a little soap-opera-ish but that's OK. Its still a good movie. After I saw this movie I grabbed my copy of the op 131 and played it. The movie helped me understand it better. It should be noted that ths film also has special insight into great paintings. There is a scene is a museum that I loved. Also, its worth mentioning that the great classical mezzo-soprano, Anne Sophie Von Otter, has a very short cameo. Too bad she did not have more screen time. She is the best. BTW, another reviewer said that Melissa Leo is in this movie. She is not. What movie was he watching?