BY JENNA SIMPSON
This movie has so many of the things that I love: classical music, professional jealousy, Catherine Keener, and, most of all, Philip Seymour Hoffman. I don’t think I have ever seen a movie with PSH that I haven’t liked, or at least, I have never disliked any of his performances that I’ve seen. He’s just so great, so brilliant, so accessible. He may well be my favourite actor.
Anyway, I will stop gushing about PSH. A Late Quartet is named after the colloquial term for Beethoven’s final string quartets. The movie focuses on a world-renowned string quartet as one of its members, the cellist (Christopher Walken, in one of his most touching and understated roles in years) and the glue of the group, is forced to retire due to illness. The quartet struggles to regain its footing and stay together, but also sees opportunities for growth and change, and it all brings up dramas old and new for each of the members, both separately and as a group.
Aside from PSH of course, the music is the real star of this lovely movie. Wikipedia tells me that A Late Quartet uses music by the real-life world-renowned Brentano String Quartet, and in particular features Beethoven’s beautiful Opus 131. The movie mentions that this piece was requested by Franz Schubert to be the last piece of music he ever heard. Not a bad choice!
Now, I understand that those who do not love classical music as I do might not be quite so into a movie about a string quartet. But let me assure you, there is more to love here than the music. It is interesting, well-written and well-acted. Not a barn-burner by any stretch, but solid in every way.
A Late Quartet is a wonderful movie to watch on a cold winter’s night. I hope that you’ll watch it, and that you enjoy it as much as I did.