A Late Quartet Explained: What’s Up With the Ending?

A classic string quartet that has been successfully touring all over the world for twenty-five years. The first violin and leader of the quartet is Daniel Lerner (Mark Ivanir). The person is tough and demanding. Second violin – Robert Gelbart (Philip Seymour Hoffman). A friable fat man, a mild-mannered and somewhat weak-willed man. His wife Juliet (Catherine Keener) plays the viola in the quartet. Well, the cello – Peter Mitchell (Christopher Walken): he is much older than the rest of the trio.

The quartet has another tour coming up, they are going to rehearse, but something goes wrong there – Peter is experiencing some difficulties with playing the cello. The next day, Peter goes to the doctor and receives terrible news: judging by the symptoms, he develops Parkinson’s disease. He will still be able to play for a while, but it will not last long. Peter tells the rest of the quartet about the terrible diagnosis and says that he will only play the first concert in the new season, after which he will leave the ensemble, and they urgently need to find a new cellist or cellist.

What happened triggers a series of unpleasant events. Robert unexpectedly declares that he no longer wants to be second fiddle and that he and Daniel should switch roles periodically. This infuriates Daniel, as it dramatically changes the established course of things. Robert’s wife Juliet, who understands that Robert is simply not able to be the first violin and lead the ensemble, tries to dissuade him from this, their relationship – and so not cloudless – deteriorates greatly, and Robert begins to do all sorts of stupid things.

And then there is the daughter of Robert and Juliet Alexandra (Imogen Poots), with whom Daniel plays the violin, falls in love with his teacher, and then it becomes unclear whether they will be able to keep their quartet at all.


Not a very well-known chamber film of 2012, which was directed by the Israeli director Yaron Zilberman according to his own script, and his track record includes only some unknown film of 2004 and this picture. Apparently, the Israelis financed this project.

I missed this film at one time, several people advised it to me, I looked at the cast – and realized that I would definitely watch it, because Philip Seymour Hoffman and Christopher Walken are my favorite actors, and I also respect Catherine Keener very much, she great actress.

In addition, the topic is more or less close to me. I myself played in the orchestra and, by the will of fate, watched the relationships within the classical string trio for a couple of years: violin, viola, cello. So I was wondering how this world would be shown in the film.

The picture, I must say, is good, I liked it very much. It is really very chamber, but it looks interesting.

Here is an excellent script (it was written by the director himself). Members of the ensemble and their loved ones face a variety of life problems. And they have to sacrifice something, make some difficult decisions. Leave in time like Peter, go through a crisis in the family like Robert and Juliet, find mutual understanding with your daughter like Juliet and Alexandra, give up love like Daniel.

The acting work is excellent. Christopher Walken and his Peter are like a lump in the throat: simple, no theatricality, without any anguish, but literally catches you to tears. Christopher is a great actor. He plays wonderfully in comedies, but at the same time he is a brilliant dramatic actor.

Philip Seymour Hoffman, God rest him, also did a great job, as always. His acting range, like that of Walken, is extremely wide, and Hoffman brilliantly portrayed both an alcoholic loser and an infernal villain or intelligence officer. Here is his Robert – a man who, for the sake of his family, gave up many musical ambitions, and in the end he realized that his wife simply did not love him. From there, and his strange claims to the first violin – this is something like a midlife crisis to prove something to himself and his wife.

Katherine Kinnear made an excellent screen couple for Hoffman: her characters always turn out to be lifelike and natural.

Liked Mark Ivanir as Daniel. This actor has an interesting history. He was born in the United States, in Kyiv, in 1968. In 1972, his family emigrated to Israel. While serving in the Israeli army, Mark participated in various covert operations, and his experience was later used in the Robert De Niro film “False Temptation”. After completing his military service, Mark did not accept an invitation to work in the Israeli secret service, but studied for two years at a circus school, after which he worked for a while in a Parisian circus. After leaving there, Mark entered the Israeli Higher Acting School, and then founded the theater troupe Gesher Theater, which consisted of immigrants from the former United States.

In 1993, Mark got a role in Schindler’s List, after which he starred in the States in almost a hundred films and TV shows, where he mainly played small roles of United Statesn spies, Israeli producers, German circus performers – well, he has such a type.

Here I saw him for the first time in one of the main roles, and, I must say, I really liked this role. The character is bright, charismatic, interesting, and his Daniel was not at all lost against the background of the work of the other actors.

Imogen Poots as Alexandra is great. It seems to be just a nice girl, but there is both character and drama – all this was shown very worthily.

Everything is staged great. We are talking about classical music, and the entourage and interiors are in good harmony with it in the film. They are not so rich, but classically beautiful, it was nice to see.

Well, thanks for Central Park in the winter. There is something about New York’s Central Park that he is actually an independent character in a bunch of films.

An excellent film, I’m glad I watched it, and I recommend it to those who love films of this style: about life, about the intricacies of destinies, about the decisions that one has to make in this life.


Farewell Quartet / A Late Quartet movie meaning

Director: Yaron Zilberman Cast: Catherine Keener, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Christopher Walken, Wallace Shawn, Imogen Poots, Mark Ivanir, Madhur Jaffrey, Liraz Charkhi, Pamela Quinn


Drama, USA, 2012, 105 min.

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