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A Late Quartet(2012)
Music-based drama directed by Yaron Zilberman in which a world-renowned string quartet from New York must come to grips with the thought of losing one of their members. After being diagnosed with Parkinson's disease, Peter (Christopher Walken), the eldest of the group, expresses his wish to leave. As his departure threatens the future of the quartet, so does the breakdown of Robert (Philip Seymour Hoffman) and Juliette (Catherine Keener)'s marriage. Tensions increase further when Robert becomes dissatisfied with his position as second violinist, while first violinist Daniel (Mark Ivanir) becomes involved with Alexandra (Imogen Poots), Robert and Juliette's much younger daughter.
For more about A Late Quartet and the A Late Quartet Blu-ray release, see the A Late Quartet Blu-ray Review published by Dr. Svet Atanasov on August 3, 2013 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.5 out of 5.
Starring: Philip Seymour Hoffman, Catherine Keener, Christopher Walken, Mark Ivanir, Imogen Poots, Wallace Shawn
Director: Yaron Zilberman
» See full cast & crew
A Late Quartet Blu-ray Review
Reviewed by Dr. Svet Atanasov, August 3, 2013
Screened at the Toronto International Film Festival, Yaron Zilberman's fiction feature debut "A Late Quartet" (2012) arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of British distributors Curzon Film World. The only supplemental features on this release is the film's original theatrical trailer. In English, with optional English SDH subtitles for the main feature. Region-B "locked".
The members of the renowned Fugue String Quartet have been together for more than 25 years. They are all impeccable musicians and they know it, but they are also aware that they have been lucky to go as far as they have because in the business they are in talent isn't enough to be successful.
With only a few weeks before the first performance for the new season, the older member of the quartet, the cellist Peter (Christopher Walken, The Addiction, King of New York), is diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease.
Each member of the quartet reacts to the bad news differently. Peter urges his colleagues to contact another professional chamber musician whom they have used in the past and continue performing. But first chair violinist Daniel (Mark Ivanir, Schindler's List) is unsure if the replacement will be able to fill the void - amongst many other things, Peter's unique vibrato is what gives the quartet its identity. Second chair violinist Robert (Philip Seymour Hoffman, The Master) thinks that the quartet should not try to simply replace Peter but reinvent its style. Juliette (Catherine Keener, Being John Malkovich), the viola player and Robert's wife, is convinced that without Peter the quartet can no longer exist.
While debating the future of the Fugue String Quartet, Daniel, Robert and Juliette slowly begin to realize that without Peter not only their careers but also their personal lives will be very different.
The film is structured as a quiet drama about four people who have essentially become a family without fully realizing it, but it also touches on a number of issues professional classical musicians face while trying to become or remain successful. The first half of the film focuses on the gradual character transformation each member of the quartet undergoes and the reactions these transformations generate. The second half is where new relationships are formed and then new goals set.
The catalyst for the key conflicts in the film seems to be Robert, who insists that it is time for his colleagues to abandon the safe style they have favored for years. What he is really calling for, however, is a change of the leadership – he wants Daniel's spot and with it the opportunity to prove that he is just as good. Daniel's predictable reaction then unleashes a series of conflicts which reveal that every single member of the quartet has secretly hoped for an opportunity to prove something – and not necessarily to someone else.
The debates between the musicians are terrific. They will resonate with viewers who are unfamiliar with the complex relationship between seasoned classical musicians in chamber groups as well as with those who know exactly what could frustrate them. The understanding of the structure of Beethoven's brilliant string quartet Opus 131 in C# minor, the film's central piece, is also very impressive.
The cast is wonderful. Hoffman, Keener, Ivanir and Walken certainly look like professional classical musicians with tremendous experience. Imogen Poots, who plays Robert and Juliette's young daughter, and the stunningly beautiful Israeli actress Liraz Charhi also have memorable cameos.
A Late Quartet was lensed by award-winning cinematographer Frederick Elmes (David Lynch's Blue Velvet, Jim Jarmusch's Broken Flowers, Ang Lee's The Ice Storm).
A Late Quartet Blu-ray, Video Quality
Presented in an aspect ratio of 2.40:1, encoded with MPEG-4 AVC and granted a 1080p transfer, Yaron Zilberman's A Late Quartet arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of British distributors Curzon Film World.
Shot with the Arri Alexa camera, A Late Quartet looks quite magnificent in high-definition. Detail and especially clarity are outstanding, both during close-ups as well as during the few outdoor panoramic shots. Sharpness and contrast levels remain stable throughout the entire film. Color reproduction is also very impressive - there is a wide range of rich and vibrant but natural blues, browns, grays, and blacks. There are absolutely no traces of problematic lab corrections. Excluding one example of light banding very early into the film, there are also no serious transfer-specific anomalies to report in this review. Overall image stability is also excellent. To sum it all up, A Late Quartet looks simply fabulous on Blu-ray. (Note: This is a Region-B "locked" Blu-ray release. Therefore, you must have a native Region-B or Region-Free PS3 or SA in order to access its content).
A Late Quartet Blu-ray, Audio Quality
There are two standard audio tracks on this Blu-ray release: English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 and English LPCM 2.0. Also included is a Descriptive Audio track (LPCM 2.0). For the record, Curzon Film World have provided optional English SDH subtitles for the main feature. When turned on, they split the image frame and the black bar below it.
The lossless 5.1 track is outstanding. Despite the fact that overall dynamic intensity is somewhat limited, depth and clarity are at what I consider to be reference levels - during the live performances and especially the stage performance the music is exceptionally crisp. The dialog is always clean, stable, and very easy to follow. For the record, there are no problematic pops, cracks, audio dropouts or distortions to report in this review.
A Late Quartet Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
A Late Quartet Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Yaron Zilberman's A Late Quartet is a pitch-perfect film. It is very impressively directed and brilliantly acted. Excluding Mud, it is the best American film to reach my desk this year. Curzon Film World's technical presentation of A Late Quartet is equally impressive. Do not hesitate to add this release to your collections, folks. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
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