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Review: A Late Quartet

By PETER KEOUGH  |  November 1, 2012
2.5 2.5 Stars

Unless Ken Russell is directing, films about musicians seldom are as exciting as the music they make. In this earnest effort, director Yaron Zilberman tries to address that by paralleling the personal relationships between the members of a string quartet with the dynamics of the group itself and the piece they are rehearsing, Beethoven's Opus 131. Unfortunately, despite an outstanding cast, the execution falls a bit flat. For one thing, the characters' problems are banal. Peter (Christopher Walken), the cellist and leader, has Parkinson's and must hand over the reins to another member. Robert (Philip Seymour Hoffman), literally second fiddle, wants the job. Daniel (Mark Ivanir), the first violin, takes it for granted he'll succeed Peter but sabotages matters by having an affair with the daughter of Robert and Juliette (Catherine Keener), the violist. Meanwhile, they practice some of the most beautiful music ever written, and you wish they'd just shut up and play.

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