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A Late Quartet

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Yaron Zilberman
Country of origin and year
USA 2012
106 minutes
Rated 15 - Contains strong language and sex
Cast: Christopher Walken, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Catherine Keener, Mark Ivanir, Wallace Shawn.

A powerhouse cast brings vivid life to Yaron Zilberman's engrossing drama about an illustrious string quartet, whose quarter-century anniversary precipitates a tempestuous (and potentially explosive) release of repressed feelings, long-held resentments and painful betrayals.

Older than his colleagues, Peter (Christopher Walken), the group's founding member, is diagnosed with a degenerative illness that forces him to confront the troubling question of who will succeed him – and what his legacy will be. The marriage between second violinist Robert (Philip Seymour Hoffman) and violist Juliette (Catherine Keener) goes suddenly south when infidelity rears its head; while brilliant, headstrong and steel-willed first violinist Daniel (Mark Ivanir), already engaged in a battle over first chair with Robert, brings tensions to a boil when he falls into the arms of Robert and Juliette's beautiful young daughter Alexandra (Imogen Poots), who is a talented violinist in her own right.

As the ensemble's ageing patriarch, Walken has never been better, brilliantly etching Peter's turbulent indecision and, finally, clear-eyed resolve about the right path to take – even as, unbeknownst to him, the four-cornered universe that he has lovingly created begins to fly apart. Not to be outdone, the rest of the cast rise to Walken's challenge, and Zilberman never missteps, guiding us gracefully through those painful inevitabilities of ageing and change that contrast so movingly with the timeless beauty of music.


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