As their 25th season together begins, world-famous string quartet “The Fugue” is almost at breaking point. Cellist, Peter Mitchell (played by Christopher Walken) is the leader of the quartet, both musically and – as he’s the oldest and has always been the most reliable and sensible – in their lives. Daniel Lerner (by Mark Ivanir) always First Violinist, has been supported since inception by Second Violinist Robert Gelbart (by Philip Seymour Hoffman). Robert’s wife Juliette (by Catherine Keener) is a violinist also. They are in rehearsals for the new season when Peter tells them he has health problems so may not be able to play the full Tour. The quartet are immediately and deeply disrupted by this – but each member must deal with the shock in their own way. Who could they possibly get to replace the irreplaceable Peter? To this point, although they hadn’t realised it, the dynamic between the four is a delicate balance, but now it is seemingly self-destructing with no way to save it. With inexplicable timing, Robert wants the group to promote him to First Violinist and he expects Juliette to support him, but their marriage isn’t as strong as it once was. Then their daughter Alexandra (by Imogen Poots), also a musician, becomes involved – but will this help? … and what lies in the future for the highly regarded quartet?
I found this movie a little too dark and brooding to be really enjoyable. It’s one of those movies where nobody is ever happy, but nevertheless the production is marvellous. Perhaps that’s why it was hard to watch – because the raw emotions of each relationship are keenly observed and very well portrayed. Excuse the pun, but performances are all excellent – we so clearly see and try to understand the complexities of the group’s matrix of interactions – both explicit and tacit – and that’s good. The cast is very strong, particularly Philip Seymour Hoffman and Catherine Keener as the couple having their marriage crumble as if they are spectators, not participants. This movie was released in the US as “A Late Quartet” but the name was changed elsewhere to prevent confusion with the British movie “Quartet” of the same time, about a group of four performers of opera.
Made in 2012. Directed by Yaron Zilberman