A Late Quartet – 3 out of 5
Here’s a real, completely made-up recreation of how I came to watch A Late Quartet…
Me: A Late Quartet? I don’t think I will watch a movie about violinists.
A Late Quartet DVD: B-but Christopher Walken is in it.
A Late Quartet DVD: Yes, really.
A Late Quartet DVD: Yep.
A Late Quartet DVD: Serious like a heart attack, friend.
Me: I’m not your friend.
A Late Quartet DVD: But we could be friends.
Me: You got a point there.
A Late Quartet DVD: So, you wanna watch me?
Me: What were you about again?
A Late Quartet DVD: Doesn’t matter, Walken is in it.
Me: Excellent point. Let’s go, sentient talking DVD.
That really happened.
A Late Quartet tells the story of a famous quartet and the troubles they start to see in their musical and personal lives after spending all the years together playing. Peter, the cellist (Christopher Walken), sees the beginning stages of Parkinson’s start to develop, violinists Robert and Juliette (Philip Seymour Hoffman and Catherine Keener) see their marriage hit some major problems and fellow violinist Daniel (Mark Ivanir) starts to engage in a relationship with Robert and Juliette’s daughter; Alexandra (Imogen Poots). All this hits the metronome as their 25th anniversary hits and they're about to play a big concert for some raucous fans—or as raucous as classical music fans get.
|Just look at them rock that shit.|
On paper, A Late Quartet is a film I would normally have no interest in because I have no musical talent—that’s why I’m a comedian and also if a violin ever entered my hands I would be too busy using the bow as a lightsaber than trying to play the damn thing. It’s not that I’m not a classical music fan—far from it. However, being a movie nut my exposure to classical music mostly comes in the form of a film’s score and the fact that I’m not really the type who likes to get dressed up in a tux and go to the concert hall (because, let’s be honest, I would be yelling “FREEBIRD!!!” every time there was a single second of silence) so I had a slight bias when I first entered the film and thought I wouldn’t be able to connect with the characters in the film. It’s hard for a guy who gets on stage to make penis jokes find common ground with someone composing a tearful rendition of Beethoven’s fifth. He did a fifth, right?
|"'Freebird?' Please stop calling me, Ron."|
However, I found that I actually enjoyed the film as the drama of the musicians lives made for a great story that really created some great development for the quartet. Not to mention that Walken (whom I never thought would see as a cellist—a word that is spelled like it should be a label for a person who hates cells), Hoffman, Keener and Ivanir all play their roles extremely well.
|"Is that man on the fifth floor mooning me?"|
The movie, at times, can be boring, although, not enough to hurt the film but the one thing that annoyed me more than anything in the film was the character of Alexandra—okay, not the character but the actress playing her; Imogen Poots. While the story of her character sleeping with a member of her parents’ quartet and teacher was interesting and made for some great dramatic tension for the film’s story and characters within it, the real point that snapped the string on the violin (that counts as a instrument metaphor, right?) is the fact that Poots is a terrible actress with very little emotion and a awful—truly awful—American accent.
|"It's your completely unconvincing accent that makes me want to have intercourse|
with you in complete disregard to the feelings of my fellow quartet members."
Poots is a British-born actress who I’ve only seen in 28 Weeks Later (and she was good in it) but in this film she shows no real emotion with the exception of being sad in one scene, smiling in another and a pointless dance scene later. The rest of the time she kinda just shows up and does little with her character—however, the little she does is passable and wouldn’t have hurt the film…that is until she opens her mouth and speaks in the most unconvincing American accent I have ever heard. She literally sounds like a robot attempting to do an American accent and its only point of reference during its programming stage was a Speak and Spell. While this does seem like an insane complaint but the bad accent was so distracting it ended up harming the storyline that involved the character of Alexandra and Daniel and really destroyed all attempts at compelling storytelling since it looked like the violinist was in love with a robot that wore human skin.
|"I now know why you cry but it is something I cannot do."|
Overall, A Late Quartet is a decent movie that tells a great story and offers up some great classical music—and I never realized how those who perform with string instruments required some rocking head movements. Will I ever watch the film again? Probably not because the replay value for me isn’t there but the film was definitely well made and entertaining and it’s not every day I get to see Walken rock a cello.
|His cover of "Iron Man" is pure art!|