A LATE QUARTET (Mongrel, 2012) D: Yaron Zilberman, w/ Philip Seymour Hoffman, Christopher Walken. Rating: NNNNN; DVD package: none Rating: NNNNN
A Late Quartet seamlessly blends the personal, artistic and professional lives of top-level musicians in a unique, absorbing story that engages both heart and mind.
The Fugue Quartet has been at the top of the classical music world for 25 years when its cellist (Christopher Walken) tells the others he has Parkinson's disease and is retiring. The news upsets the delicate balance among the others: first violin (Mark Ivanir), second violin (Philip Seymour Hoffman), who is also married to the viola player (Catherine Keener). Politicking over the quartet's future ensues and inevitably bleeds into long-standing personal discontents.
All four are smart, articulate and know each other very well, conditions that lead to unexpected scenes that play out in ways that seem both surprising and inevitable. The rich performances filled with nuances are perfectly captured by director Yaron Zilberman's smooth, unobtrusive camera work.
The movie conveys a great deal of information about a concert musician's life. A background doc would have made an interesting extra.
EXTRAS English audio. French subtitles.