A Late Quartet (2012)

© 20th Century Fox. All Rights Reserved.
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Released:  Friday, November 2, 2012  
Length:  105 minutes
Studio: 20th Century Fox
Genre: Drama/Suspense
Rating: A Late Quartet is rated R by the Motion Picture Association of AmericaUnder 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian.


On the eve of a world renowned string quartet’s 25th anniversary season, their beloved cellist, Peter Mitchell (Christopher Walken), is diagnosed with the early symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease. When Peter announces he wishes to make the upcoming season his last, his three colleagues find themselves at a crossroad. Competing egos and uncontrollable passions threaten to derail years of friendship and collaboration. Robert Gelbart (Philip Seymour Hoffman), the quartet’s second violinist, announces his desire to alternate chairs with first violinist Daniel Lerner (Mark Ivanir), after years of sacrifice and peacemaking for the benefit of the group. Robert’s wife, violist Juliette Gelbart (Catherine Keener) has a particularly difficult time grappling with the tragic diagnosis, as Peter has served not only as a colleague, but as a dear father figure since childhood.

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A Late Quartet Blu-ray Review

A strong essay on music and interpersonal relationships A Late Quartet comes to home video on Blu-ray and it's good.  The stellar ensemble cast provides an introspective look into the lives of friends drawn together by their musical craft and their inevitable separation. The home movie experience on Blu-ray for quality of both video and sound is very good.
The movie centers on four virtuoso string players who have been together for a quarter of a century playing for audiences and themselves.  They have aged but still practice, trying to improve what is already exceptionally good.  Violinists Daniel (Mark Ivanir) and Robert (Philip Seymour Hoffman) are at the top of their profession although Robert would like to have more of a first chair role in the group.  Juliette (Catherine Keener), Robert's wife, plays viola and Peter (Christopher Walken) completes the quartet as cellist.
Peter has been aware that he has been not on top of his game and after a visit to the doctor finds that he has early stages of Parkinson's disease.  He informs the group about the disease and lets them know that he will be leaving after the start of their new season. When things start to implode with revelations of infidelity and jealousy, the foursome try desperately to hold it all together.
The four leads are extremely good showing their stellar acting ability in their roles of the four out of tune personalities caused by the devastating blow involving Peter.  Kenner puts her character Juliette in a position that pushes her husband Robert, played impeccably well by Hoffman, away from their relationship.  Lost in this unfortunate situation and the desire to become first violin, Robert wanders finding release with a one-night stand.  Ivanir makes a stalwart Daniel who's flawless as the lead violinist and cagy when it comes to making moves on Alexandra (Imogen Poots), Robert and Juliette's daughter. 
Topping the cast, Christopher Walken gets to show his dramatic soft side without the chaos that most of his former roles have demanded.  I like this side of Walken who creates a realistic empathy for his character hardly seen from the master of the con and confrontational. 
Nicely transferred from screen to Blu-ray the quality of both video and sound make A Late Quartet an enjoyable home viewing experience. Using the High Definition Blu-ray in widescreen 1.76:1 aspect ratio, the movie fills the whole screen.  Interior shots are commendably free from any blurring or distortion and the scenes showing the ensemble in concert are striking.
The audio quality using the DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 brings the music up close and with surround it gives the feel you are right in the room with the players.  Dialogue is easy to understand and pleasing to the ear.  I found myself wandering a bit with the musical selections, but I was brought back to center during the dramatic interaction of the characters.
There is a short bonus features on the Blu-ray disc called "Discord and Harmony: Creating A Late Quartet" where each of the main stars talk about the film.

FINAL ANALYSIS:  A good film for art house goers and lovers of good acting. (B)


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