Box art for A Late Quartet

A Late Quartet

  • Rated R
  • HD and SD formats available


Academy Award® Winners Christopher Walken and Philip Seymour Hoffman strike all the right chords with Academy Award® Nominee Catherine Keener.

Rotten Tomatoes® scores

  • Critic Score
  • Audience Score

common sense

ON for kids age 16
2 out of 5
Drinking, drugs, & smoking
2 out of 5
3 out of 5
Positive messages
1 out of 5
Positive role models
1 out of 5
4 out of 5
2 out of 5

Drama about musicians has great acting, some mature content.

what parents need to know

Parents need to know that A Late Quartet examines the inner workings of a world-famous string quartet that's thrown into disarray when one of the musicians is diagnosed with Parkinson's disease. Long-buried rivalries -- some petty, others more significant -- are revealed as the three remaining players try to come to grips with their new reality, and not everyone behaves like a mature adult. Expect some bitter arguments, occasional swearing (including "s--t"), and a brief fistfight, as well as a few sex scenes (including one with a nude woman moving up and down over a man) and several people drinking wine and other beverages in social situations.

what families can talk about

  • Families can talk about the characters. Are they realistic? Are they relatable? Do you think they're intended to be role models?
  • What choices do the characters make? What have they given up? What is the movie saying about these decisions?
  • Some musicians who've seen the movie say they find it distracting to see non-musicians "play" their instruments. Do you think it's important for a movie about a specific talent to portray that talent accurately?

movie reviews from Rotten Tomatoes®

  • Tomatometer®

    reviews counted: 19
    see all A Late Quartet reviews
  • Audience


Top Critic Reviews

Fresh: ...the very definition of a character driven drama, the performances humbling in their power.

- Amanda Mae Meyncke,, Sunday, November 4, 2012

Rotten: A half-glass of a movie, full of superlative performances and sublime music but empty when it comes to a story rife with melodrama and trite plot conventions.

- Ann Hornaday, Washington Post, Friday, November 2, 2012

Fresh: It] may not sound like a scintillatingly good time at the movies, but actually it is.

- Bruce Demara, Toronto Star, Thursday, November 29, 2012

Audience Reviews

4 stars

A Late Quartet is a superlatively acted, well written, intense and downbeat melodrama. It's quiet and heartfelt, though probably too intellectual and pretentious for the escapist movie goer, or if you feel like a romp where you can turn your brain off at the movies, don't go (or rent). It's the story of the labyrinthan and conflicting relationships between the members of a veteran string quartet, with loyalty, jealously, sex, and ambition pushing the envelope on everything. The catalytic event is a diagnosis of Parkinson's disease, forcing the retirement of the groups cellist father figure, played by Christopher Walken. Every performance is a gem, but Christopher Walken is a revelation, since he usually plays weird over the top surreal clowns (albeit compellingly each time). Here he plays a real man, facing death and decline with his whole heart and soul on display. P.S. Hoffman does his usual angst filled disapointment filled character with his usual skill, as his wife, Catherine Keener gets to do a more muted but well calibrated take on on her bitchy brutally honest but soulful charcter, Israeli Mark Ivanir plays the star lead violinst, a distant, arrogant but alpha male with sensitivity, I haven't seen him before in anything. English up and coming Imogene Poots plays the daughter of the couple, who enters into a sexual relationship with Ivanir (his mother's old flame) causing the group to almost flame out. As much as I loved it, be warned the movie involves lots of talk about Beethoven and classical music that may bore some viewers (I loved it). Further, the film which feels very real most of the time, depends on French Farce like coincidences and meolodramatic over the top tropes to advance its story, which may annoy some viewers hooked up on realism. First time feature writer/director Yaron Zilberman does a wondeful job here, and I look forward to his next film. Finally, the wonder that is Beethoven's opus 131 is the star of the show, and its melancholic, mournful yet life affirming strains are lived up and matched by this terrific chamber film.

- fb1038944442, Monday, December 31, 2012

4 stars

"A Late Quartet" is a magnificent film, the best I've seen in 2012 thus far. It reminds me of when "In the Bedroom" was released in 2001. From out of nowhere, a filmmaker no one has heard of explodes onto the world-cinema stage with a quiet, spectacularly artful near-masterpiece. "A Late Quartet" was directed and co-written by Yaron Zilberman, only his second film. His first film was a 2004 feature-length documentary called "Watermarks," about an Austrian sports club that was a training ground for Olympians. Shut down by the Nazis in 1938, its mostly Jewish members were scattered across the world but reunited by Zilberman for the making of the film. With "A Late Quartet," his first fictional film, Zilberman explores the world of top-flight classical music. A world-famous string quartet is approaching its 20th anniversary. The stresses and strains of, in a sense, being married to each other for so long are starting to show. Much has been said over the years about the strains of being in a rock band for many years, where a handful of individuals have their personal, economic, and creative lives completely interwoven. But little has been said about this in other musical worlds. Until now. "A Late Quartet" brilliantly captures what this might be like. The quartet members are played by three famous actors and one lesser-known but equally powerful actor. Mark Ivanir (whom I've never heard of until now) plays the founder of the quartet and lead violinist. The others are played by Philip Seymour Hoffman (second violinist), Catherine Keener (viola), and Christopher Walken (cello). All are wonderful, but it was a special thrill to see Walken as the cellist. Known for playing action-movie sociopaths and other various and sundry nutjobs, Walken at long last comes in from the wild to play a highly civilized, bookish man. There is no crazy in his character. Walken can't rely on histrionics here. He's got to convey his character in an under-stated way, and he does it masterfully. I'd like to see him nominated for Best Supporting Actor for his work in this film. One scene in particular has stuck with me. Walken's character was recently widowed. His wife was an accomplished opera singer. One night, when he is feeling most alone in his big empty apartment, he sits in the dark listening to one of her albums. The grief and loneliness register on his face in a way that shook me greatly. One of the many things I love about "A Late Quartet" is that its characters go through the same kind of traumas and struggles that you and I go through. Adultery, lust, career advancement, jealousy, cross-generational relationships, juggling career and family, youth, aging, illness, death, cruelty toward those you love the most. Look at that list. Those are just some of the themes that come up in "A Late Quartet," and yet it doesn't seem over-stuffed. The film breathes, flowing with the normal rhythms of everyday life. It's also not particularly long: 100 minutes. Zilberman is such a masterful filmmaker that he doesn't waste a second. Every move has meaning. Every turn of the corner involves a gentle revelation of what this quasi-family is going through. Its secrets are revealed in the quiet, understated way of a great piece of chamber music. It's not in your face; it's in your hands. The film takes an unusual context, a string quartet, where four adults and their families lead exceptionally intertwined lives in order to show in sharper relief the kinds of things with which everyone struggles. It explores so many aspects of life, gets one pondering about so many elements of one's own life, and does this elegantly and artfully. In other words, "A Late Quartet" is a major work of art. As a backdrop, there are numerous reflections on Beethoven's difficult life, as this quartet specializes in Beethoven. This provides beautiful resonance with other time periods, expanding the reach of the film. What of the film's flaws? Yes, there are a couple. There are one or two moments when the quartet's struggles come across as shrill squabbling, and the issues they're fighting about sometimes feel predictable and reminiscent of a soap opera. I would have appreciated Zilberman working a bit more to inject an element of surprise into the story. The entanglement between the lead violinist and the daughter of the second violinist did once or twice seem predictable, similar to many soap operas we've seen before. But these moments constitute about 2% of the film. At all other times, "A Late Quartet" is superb.

- dunmyer, Sunday, November 18, 2012

3 stars

At the first rehearsal for the Fugue Quartet, Peter(Christopher Walken), the cellist, feels something is not quite right and requests an adjournment. This is about all they can agree on, however, as Robert(Philip Seymour Hoffman) wants to supplant Daniel(Mark Ivanir) as first violin while making the acquaintance of Pilar(Liraz Charhi), a flamenco dancer, in Central Park. Otherwise, Robert and his wife Juliette(Catherine Keener), who plays viola in the quartet, have a grown daughter, Alex(Imogen Poots), who is herself a musician in training. Right off the bat, "A Late Quartet" has certain things going for it like a great cast(nobody does thankless as well as Catherine Keener while it is nice to see Christopher Walken cast so against type), good music and intelligent thoughts on important themes like mortality. But sadly, it is not as good as it should have been due to its being forced, especially in its cliched soap operatic subplots that lead into a surreal climax, the more so after a little research. For example, Peter is already suffering from the death of the love of his life which could alone cause him to reexamine his life, so why also burden him with Parkinson's? At the same time, Alex's outburst comes as a breath of fresh air with its sudden injection of honesty into the proceedings.

- gator681, Monday, November 12, 2012