Yaron Zilberman’s A Late Quartet is a competent drama which boasts excellent performances.
Peter, the cellist in a successful classical string quartet, decides to retire after twenty-five years. The revelation of Peter’s illness and wishes prove to be a catalyst for the remaining three members. Resentment and desires spring to the surface, threatening to destroy the quartet…
In A Late Quartet, Peter’s announcement really does open the threshold for a myriad of other issues. Director Yaron Zilberman gives adequate time to both developing characters and moving the plot along. A Late Quartet is engaging throughout. The script is well crafted, with some great dialogue.
The narrative progresses at a good pace. Given the themes that A Late Quartet encompasses, the film does not quite pack the emotional punch one may expect. However, this may be symbolic of the action at hand. Like the quartet’s playing, emotion is measured and disciplined. It actually makes for a better film that it does not become awash with sentimentality. There is drama and heightened emotions, but A Late Quartet never descends into all-out tears.
The film has a polished look that enhances its setting of the Manhattan classical music scene. There appears to be a theme with the camera work. The restricted shots seem to mirror what is said about Parkinson’s Disease in a particular scene. The wide shots at the film’s climax indicate a shift. Zilberman appears to have been very deliberate in these choices, and it is a style that pays off.
Christopher Walken delivers a great performance as Peter. Catherine Keener is also strong as Juliette, while Philip Seymour Hoffman is superb as ever as Robert. Imogen Poots feels miscast as Alexandra, giving a slightly grating performance.
A Late Quartet is a solid drama which shows enviable restraint in spite of its themes.
A Late Quartet is out in cinemas and available on demand with Sky Store and Curzon Home Cinema from Friday 5th April 2013.
Cyrus effectively mixes drama with comedic episodes, producing a thoroughly watchable movie. The style of the film distinguishes itself from many others in the comedy-drama category, resulting in an offbeat picture that is unlikely to set the box office ablaze, but should be enjoyed by all that take a punt on Cyrus.
Divorced John is stuck in a rut until he meets an amazing woman at a party. Things are going well for the pair, until John stats to spend time with her grown-up son Cyrus…
Whilst the trailer suggests Cyrus is a comedy foremost, in reality the film is a drama with comedic interludes. Hopefully this will not deter viewers, as Cyrus is an earnest and believable movie. It is also a film that should resonate with a wide range of cinemagoers, and not just those who may have had similar experiences as the protagonist. Cyrus is really about the complexities of relationships and fitting into a structure; themes that should be universally identifiable.
A major part of what makes the film works so well is the performances by the cast. In a rare leading man role, John C. Reilly gives a great performance as the down-on-his-luck guy looking to make the most of this rare chance of romance. It is refreshing to see a leading man in a romance who is not conventionally good-looking; John’s lack of self-confidence is all the genuine because of this.
Jonah Hill is excellent as dependent son Cyrus. It is a reticent performance; Hill’s deadpan expressions and monotone responses generate a lot of the laughs in Cyrus. Marisa Tomei appears authentic as Molly, mother of Cyrus and object of John’s affection. Catherine Keener also puts in a good performance as John’s ex-wife.
Writer and director team Jay Duplass and Mark Duplass produce a real indie-feel to Cyrus. There is a lot of hand-held camera action, and the sound is at odds with most Hollywood films. The film combines natural sound with a score by Michael Andrews. Some of the scenes between John and Molly feature the dialogue over edited shots of the pair; giving these sequences a dream-like effect. Whilst the camera work is at times distracting, on the whole the less-polished approach seems appropriate given the nature of the film.
If you are expecting a out-and-out comedy, Cyrus will come as a disappointment. But as a drama with hints of humour, Cyrus works well.