(Originally "A Late Quartet")
Sex scenes and coarse language

USA 2012
Director: Yaron Zilberman
Featuring: Catherine Keener, Christopher Walken, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Imogen Poots, Mark Ivanir.
Running time: 106

A Late Quartet is a most unexpected pleasure. What could have been a TV movie is actually a heartfelt, intelligent, unassumingly well-constructed picture about a musician who has been diagnosed in the early stages of Parkinson's. Admittedly, there are moments when it looks a bit middlebrow, a little soap opera-ish, and it inevitably suffers in comparison with Michael Haneke's Amour.

Christopher Walken gives a gentle and atypical performance as Peter, a much-loved and admired cellist, the emotional linchpin of the Fugue Quartet, which has been together for 25 years. He is older and wiser than the others: first violinist Daniel (Mark Ivanir), and the second violinist Robert (Philip Seymour Hoffman) and Juliette (Catherine Keener), who are a married couple. Peter tells his stunned friends that he has Parkinson's. This triggers all kinds of painful repercussions in the group dynamic.

Only on hearing his news do the other three realise that they are not individual free agents; the remarkable success of the quartet means they have grown together as an organic entity, more like a four-way marriage than a family, and perhaps more intimate and mysterious than even that implies. Faced with losing Peter's emollient presence, they must confront awful questions: their musical relationship may collapse, and without that, how do they really feel about each other, and about their life choices? A movie with clarity and grown-up complexity.

Review: Peter Bradshaw The Guardian
Extracted by Mark Horner