By Liz Lopez
The thought of chamber music for the basis of a film may not appeal to throngs of people, but the music does have a following in many cities. For people in the Austin area who want to know more about it, there is the Austin Chamber Music Center (ACMC) that has a mission statement that it is “dedicated to serving Central Texans by expanding knowledge, understanding, and appreciation of chamber music through the highest quality instruction and performance.” I have plenty to learn about chamber music, but after viewing the feature film A Late Quartet that screened during the Austin Film Festival last month, I found the script co – written by Seth Grossman and director Yaron Zilberman to be very informative with regard to the music and the dedication by the musical artists.
This film should not be dismissed because it is inspired by and structured around Beethoven’s Opus 131 String Quartet in C-sharp minor, as it does have an R rating for language and sexuality. The musicians are dedicated to their craft, but also unleash their passion in other ways within and outside of their circle.
More than the music, I am more drawn to the film because of the cast members; Philip Seymour Hoffman, Christopher Walken, Catherine Keener, Mark Ivanir (Schindler’s List), Imogen Poots (Fright Night) and Liraz Charhi. Hoffman, Walken and Keener all met my expectations with their tremendous performances and am pleasantly surprised by Ivanir and Poots’s performance as well. Poots has a good dramatic scene with Keener that is more impressive than her other work I viewed last year, but that is more due to the script and not the actress’ level of talent.
It is the cast that kept me engaged overall and there is only one scene that dragged a bit to the point of wanting to nap, but otherwise it is worth watching the 105 minute feature film.
When the beloved cellist of a world-renowned string quartet receives a life changing diagnosis (Walken), the group’s future suddenly hangs in the balance: suppressed emotions, competing egos, and uncontrollable passions threaten to derail years of friendship and collaboration. As they are about to play their 25th anniversary concert, quite possibly their last, only their intimate bond and the power of music can preserve their legacy.
The film is in Austin exclusively at Regal Arbor.