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Late Quartet, A


Stars: Philip Seymour Hoffman, Catherine Keener, Christopher Walken, Mark Ivanir, Imogen Poots, Wallace Shawn, Madhur Jaffrey

Director: Yaron Zilberman

Good acting, great music, dodgy script, silly situations. This quartet is a mixed bag of sometimes indigestible ingredients. They form a foursome of classical musicians called The Fugue. The group, whose speciality piece is Beethoven's Late Quartet, has been together for 25 years - they refer to doing 3000 concerts, but that's one every three days! - but the film's scriptwriters are about to break them apart.

Peter (Walken), the bassist and oldest, whose wife has died a year before, is diagnosed with Parkinson's and must soon retire. The second violin (Hoffman), married to viola player Jules (Keener) is fed up with his role and wants to alternate with the controlling but passionless first violin (Ukrainian actor Ivanir), at whom the married couple's violin-playing daughter (Poots) is setting her cap.

Finally seducing him, she promptly dumps him again. Even given her parents' objections, this seems crazy.

And, while we're at it, we should all have a sexy Spanish dancer (Rebeca Tomas) to jump into bed with after a spat with the wife.

Poots' character is almost as annoying as her portrayal, but the leading quartet give fine performances on and off the stage, and do just about enough to keep us watching. And, although the intimate drama is hardly suited to the widescreen format, photography (by Frederick Elmes) is highly skilled throughout.

David Quinlan

USA 2013. UK Distributor: Artificial Eye. Colour by deluxe.
102 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 15.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 1, Violence/Horror 0, Drugs 0, Swearing 2.

Review date: 02 Apr 2013