{in theatres} A Late Quartet

November 14, 2012 by sarah

©2012 RKO Pictures / eOne

Full disclosure: I was sold on this movie from the very beginning when music professor Peter Mitchell (Christopher Walken, in a poignant turn) starts quoting from T.S. Eliot’s Four Quartets, my favorite poetry Of. All. Time. He uses the passage

Time present and time past
Are both perhaps present in time future,
And time future contained in time past.
If all time is eternally present
All time is unredeemable.

to explain the meaning behind Beethoven’s Op. 131, which he wants his professional quartet to perform for its 25th season. The problem is, there may not be a 25th season.

The quartet is being torn apart by age, disease, jealousy, egos, secrets, selfishness, lust and stubbornness. Philip Seymour Hoffman, Catherine Keener, Mark Ivanir, and Walken parry and retreat, evade and attack, manipulate and mediate their way to a final concert that brilliantly lets the music do the talking. The first fiction feature from director Yaron Zilberman (director of the documentary Watermarks), the film masterfully follows the four character’s storylines like the diverging and converging parts of a string quartet.

The actors were all convincing not only as multi-layered human beings, but as musicians, too. As is my practice, I stayed until the very end of the credits, but this time it was to hear as much as possible of the Brentano Quartet’s version of Op. 131, which was used as the soundtrack to the film. And then I went right home and downloaded it. A Late Quartet is playing in independent cinemas all over the country; check your local indie place first.

gimme five

Good for: Lovers of classical music and lovers of soapy drama

Invite your: First violinist, if you’ve got one, or, if you don’t, that friend who keeps wanting you to go to the symphony

Snack on: A Great Quartet (of Cookies): Salted Caramel Chocolate, Appledoodles, Easy Lemon, and Iced Pumpkin

Bring your: Best temperamental musician attitude and a scarf you can glower behind and whip around dramatically

Skip if: Watching tension-filled family and friend fall-outs makes you super nervous

What’s the most recent film soundtrack you’ve fallen in love with?

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About sarah

Sarah Magill has a full-time movie habit made possible by a day-time greeting card writing gig. She blogs at Gimme Some Film and is learning to write scripts and direct. She tries to balance her screen obsession with trail running, jazz singing, book clubbing, and hanging out with The Best Golden Retriever Ever, Copa.

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4 thoughts on “{in theatres} A Late Quartet

  1. Christopher Walken playing a not-creepy guy?! Imagine.

    - Maux

    • They did a good job of establishing his character from the very first scene – smart, compassionate, serious – so you weren’t waiting for Walken weirdness to jump out at you the whole time!

      - sarah

  2. i definitely want to see this. you had me at #tseliot. :) as for soundtracks, there’s no recent ones that stick out to me, but one i’ve been dying to get my hands on (to no avail, thus far) is for the newer Persuasion. (you know, the one with Adam Carter from MI-5!) there are some piano pieces in there that just get me.

    - bet

    • I just tried to find that one and couldn’t either. But the same composer (Martin Phipps) did do several others (Brighton Rock, a few British television miniseries like North & South, etc.) that are on Amazon…no guarantee that you’ll get the same emotional heft out of them…But there’s always this.

      - sarah