I quite enjoyed this one – it’s a bit solemn and certainly takes itself very seriously but the performances are superb and the music’s lovely.
To be fair, if Philip Seymour Hoffman hadn’t been involved I probably wouldn’t have seen it, but he’s a generally reliable indicator of a watchable film, and given a wash, a smart suit and a haircut I still would. He plays second violin in a string quartet which has seen some success thanks to its charismatic and recently widowed cellist, Peter Mitchell, who Christopher Walken plays with considerable grace.
The quartet is shaken by Mitchell’s announcement that he has Parkinson’s and plans to leave them. There’s a suitable replacement musically, but emotionally it hits the remaining three hard and they spin off in different directions, fuelled by reflections on their own mortality. Mitchell alone seems stable, his desire for the quartet to continue overriding some of the despair he must be feeling. Things are shaken up, and when they settle again, the four are markedly altered in different ways.
This isn’t a film to change the world, but it has some nice touches and strong performances not least from Walken, who last made me cry in a film when I realised I was too far down the row to escape from Seven Psycopaths. It’s not going to change the world, but A Late Quartet will do nicely on a Sunday afternoon with a glass of good red wine.