in order to properly comprehend this review, you must understand something about me: i do not cry. i don’t know how. i even wrote a song about it (which will eventually be available online, but isn’t yet). sometimes this lack of open emotion bothers me, especially at funerals and other social situations where you’re just supposed to cry.

i absolutely don’t cry when watching films. i’ll sit through any amount of chick flicks without shedding a tear, passing kleenexes to my girlfriends and wishing i could feel whatever it is they’re feeling.

i’ve also never been a particularly huge fan of classical music. i’ve always really wanted to like it, but never really got it, you know? if it doesn’t have lyrics, i don’t tend to understand it. i’ve always felt like it belonged to the preserves of the kind of people who drape themselves elegantly in cashmere pashminas, and other items of clothing that make an ahhhsh sound. the only classical composer i generally enjoy is mahler, and to be honest that’s less to do with the music itself and more to do with a particularly badass story about his 9th symphony that one of my teachers told me when i was about 15 and obsessed with death.

so, i got a last-minute invitation to see the late quartet, and nearly didn’t go, but then decided it’d be a good excuse to go and busk in soho afterwards, so i trundled along.

it made me ache.

this is the difficult bit: i can’t really do it justice by describing the story, because it’s not the storyline that makes it amazing. it’s just… the way it’s told. 

basic plot: quartet have been playing together for 25 years, two of the members are married. one of them is getting sick of playing second fiddle (literally and metaphorically) to the grumpy first violinist. the oldest member of the group discovers that he has a medical condition which means he needs to quit playing. this causes fractures within the quartet and the married couple discover newfound complications in their relationship.

see? not that inspiring. fairly straightforward.

i cried for pretty much the entire second half. when the credits started rolling at the end, i stayed in my seat until everyone else had left the screening room, because i wasn’t composed enough to even stand up. i then went and hid in the toilets for twenty minutes, redoing my make-up and giving myself pep talks: “scar! for fuck’s sake! you call yourself a badass?! what the hell is wrong with you?!”

no use. i left the cinema feeling raw. walked down the street, tried to start busking, couldn’t sing because i was too emotional. had to pack up and go home.

what was it that made it so moving? i really can’t say.


the acting was incredible. christopher walken was his predictably amazing self. the camerawork was also fantastic. close-ups of the actors’ faces showed every wrinkle, every curve. drew the audience into the players’ world; inside the characters themselves, to an extent. the fact that all the actors were so mature lent an element of seriousness as well, i think. it wasn’t like watching two people in their twenties bawling on their respective beds about the end of a short-lived affair; it was the deep and visceral pain of watching something disintegrate when they’d spent half of their lives – a quarter of a century – building it. trying to imagine something on that level did something to the emotion centres in my brain. they opened and tears poured out down my face.

the soundtrack is entirely classical, and i came out loving classical music. i understood, all of a sudden, why people like it, and why it’s not “just for posh people” (yeah, i know, i’m a chav with terrible taste. bite me.)

at one point, a close-up on christopher walken’s face happens at the same time as beethoven’s music rises and swells up in the background. this was almost too much for me to bear. i felt like my heart was getting redder, somehow; trying to escape my chest.

it made me raw. it hurt me. in a good way.

still kinda disturbed that music makes me cry in a way that funerals don’t, though. but oh well.

10/10 – fucking indescribable. go see it.

3 thoughts on “a late quartet (a movie review)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.