The show — and the sounds — must go on for this ‘Late Quartet’

One of the best things about “A Late Quartet” is that director Yaron Zilberman (and his cinematographers and audio engineers) makes the audience believe that actors Christopher Walken, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Catherine Keener and Mark Ivanir are seasoned professional musicians.

Yet it’s the Brentano Quartet gloriously playing the piece referenced in the  film’s title: Beethoven’s String Quartet No. 14 in C Minor, Op. 131, an apex of chamber music written just a year before the composer’s death.

Although music is central, the movie is really a “show must go on” backstage drama, set in concert halls and rehearsal rooms.

Ivanir — an Israeli actor and, of the leads, the least known to American audiences — is outstanding.

He plays first violinist Daniel, who is tutoring and having an affair with Alexandra (a lively Imogen Poots), the daughter of second violinist Robert (Hoffman) and violist Juliette (Keener), whose marriage is falling apart.

Walken is a large presence as Peter, cellist and founder of the 20-year-old ensemble, who is diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease just as the group starts preparing for an important anniversary performance of the Beethoven work.

Life, agony and music unfold in Manhattan, leading to a climax that has musical and dramatic impact, even though many of the central characters’ conflicts do not get resolved.

“A Late Quartet” is attractive, impressive and of special interest to music aficionados. The movie’s impact, however, is diminished by a constant accumulation of relationship problems that make it more melodramatic than the director might have intended.

artsCatherine KeenerChristopher WalkenMoviesPhilip Seymour Hoffman

If you find our journalism valuable and relevant, please consider joining our Examiner membership program.
Find out more at www.sfexaminer.com/join/

Just Posted

A construction worker watches a load for a crane operator at the site of the future Chinatown Muni station for the Central Subway on Tuesday, March 3, 2021. (Sebastian Miño-Bucheli / Special to the S.F. Examiner)
Major construction on Central Subway to end by March 31

SFMTA board approves renegotiated contract with new deadline, more contractor payments

Neighbors and environmental advocates have found the Ferris wheel in Golden Gate Park noisy and inappropriate for its natural setting. <ins>(</ins>
Golden Gate Park wheel wins extension, but for how long?

Supervisors move to limit contract under City Charter provision requiring two-thirds approval

San Francisco school teachers and staff will be able to get vaccinations without delay with the recent distribution of priority codes. 
Shutterstock
SF distributes vaccine priority codes to city schools

San Francisco has received its first vaccine priority access codes from the… Continue reading

COVID restrictions have prompted a benefit or two, such as empty streets in The City. <ins>(Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)</ins>
Taking the scenic route through a pandemic

Streets of San Francisco are pleasantly free of traffic

Kelly Marie Tran and Awkwafina provide the voices of the title characters of “Raya and the Last Dragon.” <ins>(Courtesy Disney)</ins>
‘Raya and the Last Dragon’ boasts full-scale diversity

Though familiar in plot, Disney’s latest is buoyed by beauty, pride and power

Most Read