Very few movies have ever dealt with the inner workings of professional classical musicians – the best are probably “The Basileus Quartet” and “Intimate Lighting” – so it’s a letdown that Yaron Zilberman’s “A Late Quartet,” which boasts a terrific cast including Philip Seymour Hoffman, Catherine Keener, Mark Ivanir, and Christopher Walken, doesn’t live up to its promise.
The actors are playing longstanding members of a famed string quartet whose future is in disarray following the news that Walken’s cellist will have to step down for health reasons.
Zilberman’s conceit is that these players, who mesh so beautifully in their music-making, are discordant in their personal lives. Those lives are constructed for maximum messiness, turning what might have been resonant drama into high-class soap opera.
Of the cast, the standout is Walken, who gives a performance of superlative grace amid all the hectoring. Grade: B- (Rated R for language and some sexuality.)