Starring: Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Christopher Walken, Catherine Keener, Mark Ivanie, Imogen Poots
Directed by Yaron Zilberman
Run Time: 105 mins
Opens November 9th
By Lisa Minzey of The Reel Critic.com
For the past 25 seasons, the Fugue Quartet have traveled the world together, performing in world famous venues, for thousands of people. The quartet was formed in the late 1980’s by students and a faculty member of Carnegie Hall. Daniel Lerner (Mark Ivanir) holds the position of 1st violin; Robert Gelbart (Phillip Seymour Hoffman) currently holds the 2nd violin chair; Juliette Gelbart plays the viola and Peter Mitchell (Christopher Walken) rounds up the group by playing the cello.
In the past year, the dynamic of the group was rocked to its core when Peter had to step aside to mourn the loss of his wife, Miriam (Anne Sofie von Otter). Upon his return, he notices that he is not able to play as well. He seeks out medical help and is diagnosed with the early stages of Parkinson’s disease. Peter decides that this season if he is well enough to play with the aid of medication, will be his last. The rest of the group is shocked, but in various stages of denial or planning their next moves. Juliette is adamant that Peter will play as they have chosen Beethoven Opus 131 C-sharp minor quartet as their opening selection. Daniel is trying to figure out who can replace Peter and if he can get the same cellist that replaced him in his absence after Miriam’s death, Nina Lee. Robert, on the other hand, is looking at this as an opportunity to shake things up by alternating with Daniel the roles of playing 1st violin. Robert is tired of playing second to Daniel and wants to grow as a performer.
Juliette and Daniel vehemently disagree with Robert, meeting secretly to discuss how to change his mind, continuing to play 2nd violin. Robert is one of the best at that position, and to change his position so late into their group’s history is unsettling. Juliette and Robert discuss the change up one night on the way home from a gathering at Peter’s home, which results in Robert storming of angrily, not returning home for the evening. Their marriage has also been hanging by a delicate thread, mostly due to the lack of emotional support by Juliette. The news about Peter has caused Juliette to push Robert further away, and now with the lack of support about his future aspirations, Robert makes a heinous decision that could end his marriage and the group altogether.
In Daniel’s world, he is also facing a set of personal challenges that could possible destroy the group. He has been coaching Juliette and Robert’s college aged daughter, Alexandra (Imogen Poots) at the suggestion of Peter, as she has immense potential to become a 1st violin player one day. The more time that Alexandra and Daniel spend together, the attraction and temptation becomes too much until she makes the first move. At first, Daniel pushes her away, but quickly succumbs to his feeling and desires.
Will the quartet be able to make it to their season opener with Peter or will his health quickly deteriorate? With all of the personal drama between Daniel, Juliette and Robert be able to be set aside for them to continue professionally or will this truly be the last time they all perform, if they make it that far?
Mimicking Beethoven Opus 131 C-sharp minor quartet, the story starts off rather slow, builds to a slow crescendo of interpersonal drama between the characters, finishing off in a loud and boisterous way, meaning to be grandiose and poignant. What stood out above the story and acting performances were the musical selections, becoming the unspoken character that kept some bit of sanity among the group. It was refreshing to see Christopher Walken in a more serious role, and for those expecting more cowbell and his usual zany tactics, you may be disappointed or surprised by his subtle performance. A Late Quartet opens in Phoenix starting Friday November 9, 2012.