Performance (‘A Late Quartet’)

DRAMA; 1hr 45min

STARRING: Christopher Walken, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Catherine Keener, Mark Ivanir, Imogen Poots

Moving on: Keener and Hoffman

Any group of creative people has a complexly ego-driven dynamic. For the world-famous, New York–based Fugue String Quartet, it depends on each person playing the same part they’ve played for some 25 years — in myriad ways.


That goes by the board with paterfamilias cellist Peter (an elegantly restrained Walken) announcing his upcoming retirement after contracting Parkinson’s disease. With all bets off, resentful second violinist Robert (Hoffman) butts heads with brusque first violinist Daniel (Ivanir). When Robert’s wife, viola player Juliette (Keener), isn’t sufficiently supportive, their marriage implodes. The hullabaloo is heightened by Daniel’s rash involvement with Juliette and Robert’s ravishing violinist daughter, Alexandra (Poots).


What a falling-off was there! Written and directed by Yaron Zilberman, Performance (aka A Late Quartet ) unravels the ties that bind and suffocate, the liberating imprisonment of talent and meanness of spirit as a flipside to artistic sensitivity. It’s a film about paradoxes that is a paradox in itself. Soapy yet deadly serious, its unremarkable ideas are elevated by a fine-tuned cast and the fluid beauty of Beethoven played from the heart.