"“Guilty of verging on the melodramatic, but fortunately thanks to the fantastic performances from our leading cast members, it lets the picture off the hook...”"

Considering A Late Quartet is filmmaker Yaron Zilberman's directorial debut, he has assembled quite the cast, bringing together Philip Seymour Hoffman, Christopher Walken and Catherine Keener together on screen, as for the second time this year we delve into the trials and tribulations of a once flourishing quartet.

The celebrated string quartet are celebrating 25 triumphant seasons together, however when prepping for their upcoming venture, they are rocked by the news that cellist Peter (Walken) is diagnosed with Parkinson's disease. With his resignation forthcoming, the news works by way of a catalyst for a host of repressed emotions to come to light, particularly for fellow members Robert (Seymour Hoffman) and Juliette (Keener), who find their marriage slowly crumbling beneath them. Meanwhile, the fourth member and self-imposed leader Daniel (Mark Ivanir) also finds himself in a spot of controversy, as this once prospering quartet are now not only fighting for their careers, but their friendships.

Given the narrative, A Late Quartet is guilty of verging on the melodramatic, but fortunately thanks to the fantastic performances from our leading cast members, it lets the picture off the hook. Effectively, this is Eastenders dressed up and placed within a more highbrow society, yet that actually works quite well. It just goes to show that no matter how rich or successful you may be, or how sophisticated your taste is, you aren't immune from natural human emotion and life's issues, and break-ups and irrepressible lust is harmful to just about anyone.

The melodrama that ensues works well against the placid backdrop, as the cinematography and pensive nature to this title conflicts masterfully against the sensationalist drama. The music also contributes greatly to this, as the soundtrack is made up mostly of the classical music that the quartet are practising or studying, fully enhancing the piece, given such a genre of music is so charged, and rich in emotion.

Where this picture stands tallest, however, is within the acting performances, particularly from the immensely talented Seymour Hoffman, who really stands out. He is just brilliant in every single thing he does, and even in this he shaves off a beard with a razor and doesn't cut himself once. He's an inspiration to us all. Walken is also brilliant, as he has this sadness within his eyes, much like the late John Cazale, and this works well for his mellowing role.

A Late Quartet is a fine piece of cinema and a strong debut for Zilberman, and once again - following on from Dustin Hoffman's offering earlier in the year - proves to us that members of a classical music quartet are quite the rampant bunch.

A Late Quartet is in cinemas and On Demand this Friday, 5th April.  The film is a simultaneous release with Sky Store and Curzon Home Cinema - please visit www.alatequartet.co.uk for more information.