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Philip Seymour Hoffman,
After a classical string quartet's 25 years of success, Peter, the cellist and oldest member, decides that he must retire when he learns he has Parkinson's Disease. For the others, that announcement proves a catalyst for letting their hidden resentments come to the surface while the married members' daughter has disruptive desires of her own. All this threatens to tear the group apart even as they are famous for playing Beethoven's String Quartet No. 14, opus 131, a piece that is played non-stop no matter how life interferes. Written by
Kenneth Chisholm (email@example.com)
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Time present and time past are both perhaps present in time future, and time future contained in time past. If all time is eternally present, all time is unredeemable. Or say that the end precedes the beginning, and the end and the beginning were always there before the beginning and after the end. And all is always now.
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As the film opens and the four members of the renown, Manhattan based Fugue string-quartet grace their humble audience and stage, they slowly bow and the film cuts.
Like so many movies before it, the film starts where it ends.
Like a cheap, brand new suit or a stuffy high-brow gala, Yaron Zilberman's A Late Quartet is a fine piece of high cultured entertainment with low-brow issues.
Graced with fine classical music and an impeccable musical score from Angelo Badalamenti, the music is just the setting for a simple story of passion and love. But the twist in the narrative as the film unfolds, is not the love and passion the quartet shares for one another, but rather a sizzling passion for the sounds and beauty of classical compositions.
Like any hobby or refined passion, A Late Quartet is a showcase of how music affects the lives of people who allow them to be engulfed by the mesmerizing strings of some of the greatest musicians to have ever lived.
Once together, the Fugue is a metaphor of beauty, wisdom and harmony; consisting of a group of people who are diverse both physically and emotionally. The members of the quartet include violin I and perfectionist Daniel Lerner (Mark Ivanir); violin II and the emotional impulse of the quartet Robert Gelbart (Philip Seymour Hoffman); viola and the sensible lone female composer Juliette Gelbart (Catherine Keener); and finally the glue and backbone of the quartet, aging cellist veteran and mentor to all three players Peter Mitchell (Christopher Walken).
Upon learning of his weary health and the early signs of Parkinson's disease, Peter must share with the quartet his illness and impending future of the group. His influence goes far beyond what he brings to the stage, since he and his recently deceased wife Miriam (Anne Sofie von Otter) raised Juliette from an early age as an orphan. And his teachings of classic music to Daniel as a student makes his departing the quartet emotionally straining and difficult for everyone.
As the option to find another cellist arises and the chance for the group to evolve as they approach their quarter-century anniversary, Robert sees this as an ideal opportunity to play switching roles as violin I and IIwith hesitation from the obsessed Daniel and his nonsupporting wife Juliette.
What transcends from the melodrama between these people and the struggles they face as a group of human beings, putting aside their passion for classical music, is a portrait of love, lost and acceptance. The film plays as a modern-day fable to unleash one's passion and wonderful moments of fulfilling your dreams with realities.
A Late Quartet may be a heightened sense of melodramatic wonder, thanks to the highly emotional and super sensitive Sting Quartet No. 14 by Beethoven in the film's finale or the wonderful sounds of the Brentano String Quartet playing on behalf of the Fugue. Nonetheless, a few things are certain.
A Late Quartet is a masterclass in acting for all four masterful and meticulous actors.
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