"Exposing Hidden Resentments"
A LATE QUARTET is a thoughtful, superbly acted drama about a quartet of classical musicians whose reckless affairs and secret resentments threaten to destroy their relationships after 25 years of performing. A LATE QUARTET has a strong pagan, mixed worldview. This is somewhat offset by the fact that it shows extramarital affairs have bad consequences and that it extols forgiveness.
The story follows the lives of four New York City classical musicians who have played together as a quartet for 25 years. They seem unshakable and inseparable until their leader and mentor, Peter (Christopher Walken), is diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease. Peter tells them he wants to hire a replacement and quit the group after their next concert. As the other three characters wrestle with this major change, married couple Robert (Philip Seymour Hoffman) and Juliette (Catherine Keener) find major cracks in their marriage opening. Robert feels he’s always been forced to stay in Daniel, the first violinist’s, shadow. It doesn’t help matters that Juliette and Daniel had a romantic relationship many years ago, before Juliette married Robert.
A beautiful young dancer befriends Robert. He has a one-night stand with her. It’s a mistake Robert immediately regrets, but Juliette instantly finds out and throws him out of their home. Juliette also has problems with their adult daughter, Alexandra (Imogen Poots), who resents her parents’ past neglect during frequent concert tours over the years.
When Alexandra seduces Daniel and starts a secret affair with him, the parents’ discovery of her indiscretion further drives a wedge between everyone. Robert ends up punching Daniel, nearly causing the quartet to dissolve before its final show with their leader, Peter.
In A LATE QUARTET, Writer/Director Yaron Zilberman has crafted a movie that is a true work of art, with some of the finest performances of each of its Oscar-winning or nominated stars. He opens the world of classical music quartets up for viewers who likely have little knowledge of such group dynamics. He lets the talent of his actors and his own superb screenplay match the wonder of the music, which consists mostly of Beethoven classics.
All of the movie’s misbehaviors and betrayals are not extremely graphic, just enough to convey what’s happening. For the most part, the movie is also thoughtful and intelligent in its dialogue as well, except for the movie’s too-frequent foul language, which occurs mostly in three major outbursts at highly charged emotional moments. The movie’s high production values don’t excuse the sinful behaviors, of course, but the movie isn’t extremely exploitative or prurient. In fact, the movie shows the bad consequences of sexual immorality. Also, the ending promotes the redemptive value of forgiveness.
That said, A LATE QUARTET is intended for adults. Teenagers and children probably would have little interest in the movie and its subject matter anyway. Extreme caution is advised because of the movie’s foul language and adult situations.
(PaPa, RoRo, B, C, LLL, V, SS, N, A, MM) Strong somewhat mixed pagan worldview with strong Romantic and pagan elements in an anything-goes, emotional character-driven plot containing reckless affairs and secret resentments mixed with some moral, redemptive elements showing that sexual immorality has bad consequences and characters forgive one another at the end; at least 59 obscenities and profanities, including 15 variations of the “f” word and some GDs and Jesus epithets; light violence when one man punches another man for sleeping with his adult daughter; strong sexual content includes one scene with clothed adulterous sex, partially depicted fornication, talk about a previous pre-marital affair; upper male nudity in shower; some alcohol use; no smoking or drugs; and, lying, jealousy, cheating, resentment, arrogance, and conflict between mother and daughter.
A LATE QUARTET is a thoughtful, superbly acted drama about four classical musicians. After 25 years, the cohesion of the quartet seems unshakable until their leader, and mentor, Peter, is diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease. Peter tells Robert, Juliette, and Daniel he wants to hire a replacement and quit the group after their next concert. As the group wrestles with this unexpected change, the marriage between Robert and Juliette begins to show major cracks. Robert cheats on Juliette. Robert also resents the fact that Daniel, his former rival for Juliette’s affections, always gets to play first violin. He thinks it’s time for him to get a chance to shine. Then, a secret affair between their adult daughter and Daniel creates even more conflict in the quartet.
A LATE QUARTET has excellent writing, directing, and acting. The cast of veteran actors is superb. The movie shows the bad consequences of sexual immorality. Also, the ending promotes the redemptive value of forgiveness. However, the movie’s foul language and adult situations warrant extreme caution. A LATE QUARTET is clearly intended for adult viewers only.