Entertainment :: Movies

A Late Quartet

by Monique Rubens Krohn
Contributor
Monday Feb 25, 2013
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The myriad meanings of the word "late" resonate throughout Yaron Zilberman’s complex and powerfully acted film about an established string quartet rocked by the news that its patriarch, Peter, (Christopher Walken) has Parkinson’s disease. On the surface, the film’s title, "A Late Quartet," can refer to Beethoven’s "Quartet in C Sharp Minor (Opus 131)," the showpiece that will mark Peter’s musical exit. "Opus 131" is one of Beethoven’s ’late’ quartets-tumultuous, passionate and played without pause, adjectives that also reflect what happens to the four players following Peter’s tragic news.

A successful quartet requires discipline, and strict adherence to individual roles, timing, and nuances. There are leaders, followers and deep emotional connections to the players and music. "Latent" individual needs and feelings are subsumed for the greater good of the quartet, all of which become unleashed in the face of Peter’s imminent departure.

A gripping glimpse at the powerful emotions and intricacies underlying the strict dictates required of a string quartet to make great music.

As the quartet, Robert Gelbart (Philip Seymour Hoffman), his wife, Juliette, (Catherine Keener), Daniel Lerner’s (Mark Ivanir), descends into chaos, the demands of "Opus 131" require that everyone get his respective act together in a poignant climactic movement in which the old guard literally gives way to the new; and order is restored, although in new ways.

This Blu-ray special features include interviews with the writers, actors and Nina Lee, a cellist who replaces Peter. Lee, of the Brentano Quartet that plays the beautiful music of this haunting film, provides valuable insights into the difficulties of stepping into someone’s famous shoes, both musically and theatrically.

"A Late Quartet"
Blu-ray
$29.99
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Monique Rubens Krohn is a freelance writer living in New Jersey

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