A Late Quartet

Synopsis: After a classical string quartet's 25 years of success, Peter, the cellist and oldest member, decides that he must retire when he learns he has Parkinson's Disease. For the others, that announcement proves a catalyst for letting their hidden resentments come to the surface while the married members' daughter has disruptive desires of her own. All this threatens to tear the group apart even as they are famous for playing Beethoven's String Quartet No. 14, opus 131, a piece that is played non-stop no matter how life interferes.
Genre: Drama, Music
Director(s): Yaron Zilberman
Production: Entertainment One
  2 nominations.
 
IMDB:
7.1
Metacritic:
67
Rotten Tomatoes:
77%
R
Year:
2012
105 min
$1,400,000
Website
79 Views

(ORCHESTRAL FANFARE PLAYS)

(MORSE CODE BEEPING)

(FANFARE ENDS)

(WOMAN COUGHS SOFTLY)

(DOOR OPENS)

(FOOTSTEPS ECHOING)

(LOUD APPLAUSE)

(SLOW, SOMBER

ORCHESTRAL OVERTURE PLAYS)

(LATCHES CLICK)

(PLAYING SLOW,

MELANCHOLY MELODY)

MAN:
"Time present and time past

Are both perhaps present in time future,

And time future contained in time past.

If all time is eternally present

All time is unredeemable.

Or say that the end precedes

the beginning,

And the end and the beginning

were always there

Before the beginning and after the end.

And all is always now. "

That's T.S. Eliot,

his take on Beethoven's late quartets.

Today, we think

about what Eliot might have meant.

We begin with Beethoven's Opus 131,

said to be his personal favorite.

It has seven movements,

at a time when the standard was four.

And they're all connected. You're

not allowed to stop between movements.

No resting, no tuning.

Beethoven insisted it be played attacca,

without pause.

Was he maybe trying to point out

some cohesion, some unity between...

Excuse me.

MAN:
...the random acts of life?

Or being deaf, alone,

and sensing the end,

he might have felt he had no time,

to pause, to take a breath.

For us, it means

that playing for so long without pause,

our instruments must

in time go out of tune,

each in its own quite different way.

It's a mess.

What are we supposed to do, stop?

Or, struggle, to continuously adjust

to each other up to the end,

even if we are out of tune?

I don't know.

Let's find out.

(PHONE RINGING)

(RINGING)

That was quick.

(WOMAN SPEAKING INDISTINCTLY

OVER PHONE)

- (CHUCKLES)

- (CLICKS MOUSE)

All right, hold on a sec.

Hong Kong on the second and fourth.

Shanghai on the 13th.

Let me double-check

with everybody first.

MAN:
Toast, if I may.

I've missed you this pre-season break.

The past year has been difficult,

as you know.

Miriam would have been here

with us today, celebrating...

Peter, she's always here.

It's a year in three weeks.

But the music, the quartet, us together

have gotten me through it,

and I need to thank you and tip a glass

to our... Can it be 25 seasons together?

- To the Fugue.

- To the Fugue.

The Fugue.

Alexandra tells me

your class really rocks.

Really? When did you speak with her?

MAN 2:
This afternoon.

PETER:
She's very good.

Advanced, quick.

- You should be pleased.

- That's my girl.

She really hardly ever plays

for us anymore.

PETER:
Let's hope she does

now that she's back from Curtis.

But to be first violin...

...she needs particular,

careful coaching.

In fact, Daniel,

I wonder if you'd give her a listen.

Tell her what you think, encourage.

I'll give her a listen. If you want to.

Sure, that'd be great.

- Shall we?

- All right, yes.

Ready?

You know, maybe this is the season

we play the Beethoven cycle... by heart.

- I've always liked that idea.

- I still think it's a gimmick.

I think playing the cycle

without these endless markings

would be exciting

and a worthwhile risk.

A risk?

A risk.

We're in the casino business now,

Robert?

These, these markings

represent layers of thought.

I tend to agree with Daniel.

Tie goes to the conservatives, I guess.

(TUNING INSTRUMENTS)

(PLAYING SLOW,

MELANCHOLY MELODY)

(OTHERS STOP PLAYING)

Our vibrato doesn't match.

I must be on vacation time still.

(CHUCKLES)

- From the top, once more please.

- OK.

- Let's do it from, from Juliette.

- Sure.

(MELANCHOLY MELODY RESUMES)

(MUSIC STOPS)

- I'm sorry, my mind's wandering.

- It's the cello.

Sorry, guys. I'm not myself.

Maybe a day or two, get my hands back.

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