Polished, well-scripted drama about a world-renowned New York string quartet formed of first violinist Daniel (Ivanir), second violinist Robert (Seymour Hoffman) and his wife Juliette (Catherine Keener), struggling to stay together in the face of competing egos, heated emotions and the illness of their cellist and mentor, Peter (Walken). Rising star Imogen Poots adds a dash of youth in this engrossing, grown-up movie.
Philip Seymour Hoffman
Dustin Hoffman's Quartet may get more exposure, but this skilfully constructed, beautifully performed drama will satisfy audiences looking for smart, intelligent filmmaking.
Centred around the 25th anniversary of the titular quartet and the events that threaten to break them apart, love, ambition, family tensions and terminal illness are woven into a story (and naturally set to a perfect classical soundtrack).
Hoffman, Keener and Ivanir all play their conflicted characters with a hungry professionalism, but the standout is Walken; the Hollywood gem's underplayed performance as a man in decline should have got him Oscar nominated and it is nice to see those soulful eyes used for something other than bad guy roles.
Plus, the committed cast have clearly practised and look like they are playing their instruments (although the soundtrack is provided by an actual quartet).
Director/co-writer Yarin Zilberman largely resists mawkish sentiment, but come the musical denoument it will be a hard heart that is not moved.