I don’t know what the hell I was doing with my life when this movie came out! I remember seeing the trailer and thinking “Oooh, those actors together!!!!!!!!!!!!!” and then I forgot about it. If you are in the same boat please take the opportunity now to watch this great film!
I’m not going to discuss the plot too much because I remembered no details from the trailer and watching the story unfold without knowing anything was great. The quartet’s playing together may be perfect but their personal lives certainly aren’t and the film examines them quite well. I really liked the pacing and I didn’t find anything to be boring or skipped over. Some issues at the end are unresolved, but I liked that aspect because obviously, that’s life.
Of course, the acting is supremely good. I’m very surprised Christopher Walken wasn’t lauded endlessly for this. Here we have a movie icon playing a role unlike anything we’ve seen him in before and I’d think Hollywood would go crazy for it. Walken is sad and reserved, his performance measured and subtle. He’ll break your heart, as does Philip Seymour Hoffman. Wow, there was one scene in particular that was actually breathtaking, he was just so great in it. (If you’ve seen it, I’m talking about when he goes to pick up his violin.) His entire performance is just perfect though. The choices he makes as an actor elevates this movie to another level. If they had someone else, it just wouldn’t have gotten me to the emotional point it did. I truly felt for him even when he wasn’t being the best person… you can see the turmoil between he and his wife (Catherine Keener) is just so real. They both have very understandable problems with each other and the way they come to light is just heartbreaking. You can be with someone a long time and have unresolved issues that never even begin to go away, they just hide in the fabric of your life. But they’ll always come to the surface eventually.
This movie deals with so many different themes, there are so many interesting dynamics between the characters, it’s hard to even touch on it in a review. Hoffman and Keener’s characters have an adult daughter who’s arc I loved, though I’m not sure the actress’s talents were particularly up to par with the rest of the cast. I think she comes to an understanding and acceptance at the end of the film that’s important, but I just wonder why she seemed to side with her father and crucify her mother. Like I said, some things are unresolved. There are a lot of nuances in the script I would have liked to see explored further, but as I said before, I did love the pacing. So maybe these things were in the script but cut out.
I have to mention I really appreciated the setting of Manhattan in the winter, just beautiful and a nice look into the classical music scene. I enjoyed the parts of archive footage/interviews of the group, it made the film feel all the more realistic to me. All in all, there’s a lot to love about this movie and I highly recommend it.