A Late Quartet – Film Review

A Late Quartet

More often than not I don’t get a chance to see a film before its release. Hard to believe though it may be, not all film distributors have yet to discover the wonder that is Mild Concern. For some films we are invited to a press/radio/niche blogger screening and for a few films like A Late Quartet this screening takes place months before the theatrical release. I saw A Late Quartet back in the haze that was 13th January 2013 and as such am relying on my notes to get me through writing this review. Below, in their entirety, are the notes in question:

So much endless talking! Slightly tedious. Just how long was it!?

Thanks for your help Past-Tim. Now allow me to extrapolate…

A Late Quartet - Christopher Walken

A Late Quartet is a drama centred around a string quartet approaching the 25th anniversary of their performing as a group. One member of the group discovers he has Parkinson’s and the group begins to unravel as old rivalries and fresh lust bubbles to the surface. The quartet comprises of Catherine Keener (my favourite actor ever), Philip Seymour Hoffman (my favourite actor ever), Christopher Walken (my favourite actor ever), and Mark Ivanir (sorry, who?) so there is a fine pedigree of comedy-drama character actors on display (along with some guy called Mark). Unfortunately the film doesn’t match the quality you would expect from this cast and instead we are left with a dry predictable drama with no sense of humour.

Hoffman and Keener play a married couple with a (crucially of legal age) daughter and Hoffman is having a predictable affair with a woman who you can’t help but feel should be totally out of his league. Keener and Egg Anne Ivanir are former lovers and there is the predictable tension this brings. You’ll never guess what happens when Ivanir’s brooding bachelor is asked to give music lessons to Keener’s attractive daughter played by Imogen Poots. Sure enough, a predictable and pretty bland affair begins.

A Late Quartet - Imogen Poots

The acting, as you would expect, is top-notch but the actors have little to get their teeth into. The numerous scenes in which they play their instruments are completely convincing to a musical dunce like me but the drama surrounding it just fell flat. Past-Tim was right; it is just endless talking, and to answer his question the running time is 105 minutes but it feels infinitely longer.

Walken is the film’s saving grace as a man losing the ability to play the music he loves and watching the quartet who should carry on his legacy allow petty rivalries to tear the group apart. Walken gives a tender performance and it is his story that pulled me through to the final scene without me doing my usual trick of falling asleep.

A truly mediocre drama that offers little relief from endless bitterness and infighting A Late Quartet is in UK cinemas from 5th April 2013.