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Film Review: A Late Quartet


It's still chilly outside, definitely still winter and we are all, definitely still melancholic after the holidays. So to cheer you all up, I recommend you watch "A Late Quartet". It features sublime music, – consisting of two violins, a violist and a cellist – exceptional acting performances, beautiful dialogues and stars the late genius Phillip Seymour Hoffman, in an exceptional role as a fallen angel who cannot forget his goodness and unearthly talent.

Directed by Yaron Zilberman (also known for Sonata and Watermarks) and featuring a brilliant cast formed by Catherine Keener, Christopher Walken, Imogen Poots, Mark Ivanir as well as Seymour Hoffman, the film tells the story of a world renowned string quartet that comes to a moment of rupture, when the senior of the group (Christopher Waken) is diagnosed with Parkinson disease and decides to retire.

The film captures the passion, discipline, dedication and strong internal struggles that artist’s face every day, while dedicating their entire talent and life to the stage.

Overly sensitive, dominated by the music of Beethoven and the sound of cello and violins, it’s set in the romance of a snowy winter in New York.

The actors had teachers to show them how to hold their instruments and how to act as if they were really performing the beautiful pieces that enchant us.

Hoffman was apparently entranced by the idea of playing the violin and his colleague Walken confirmed that by the end of filming, Hoffman was really playing the violin, even though he admitted that he never really continued to play after they finished the film.

Haunted by Beethoven's String Quartet, an extraordinary piece that seems to hold the character’s together, the plot slowly reaches an edge, making you feel that the characters are unreal by the force of their talent and determination. It all ends as real as it can get though, and as beautiful and sensitive as an artist could sense.

I recommend this film to both music and film lovers, to dreamers, to practical people and to those who are looking for an understanding of sacrifice for the sake of art.

One more thing, I learned while watching this film that Schubert's last musical request before he died was Beethoven's Op. 131 quartet. It is something that maybe I should have known by now, but here it is, this beautiful and sensitive film, teaching me such heart warming fact.

Until next time; I hope that you will listen to Beethoven at least once, and that you will watch or re-watch “A Late Quartet”.

Writing by Otilia Gilca

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