By Auke van der Veen
The realization of A Late Quartet was an improbable one. An Isreali man living in New York, with a documentary he made 10 years ago as his only experience, succeeded in recruiting a bunch of A-listers for his film. He also wrote, produced, and directed the movie. The result is first-class, and we can only hope Yaron Zilberman will not stop here.
As quartet The Fugue approaches its 25th anniversary, everything seems to be going great. But when Peter Mitchell (Christopher Walken), cello player and senior member of the group, announces he is in the early stages of Parkinson’s disease, hidden issues start to surface Immediately after explaining the situation, Peter demands that his partners find a replacement, to prevent the quartet from falling apart.
Robert Gelbart (Philip Seymour Hoffman) sees this situation as his chance to fulfill his dream of playing first violin; a role fulfilled by Daniel Lerner (Mark Ivanir) until then. Relations become very messed up from that point onwards. Robert’s wife Juliette, whose only wish is for Peter to stay, doesn’t understand her husband’s desire to play first violin. This results in their otherwise happy marriage becoming just slightly more complicated.
It might sound as if this movie is about music and melodrama, but don’t be fooled. Zilberman subtly exposes the feelings of real human beings, who share not only their passion for Beethoven, but also a strong emotional bond. The acting is superb, and especially Christopher Walken shines, showing that he can do more than just portray a crook. Besides moving emotional scenes, the movie contains some truly funny moments, adding just a little extra to what was an excellent movie to begin with.