Precarious Balance – ‘Late Quartet’ has melodrama aplenty, but also a great Walken performance

Christopher Walken has become such a beloved figure in Western culture, with his wild eyes and imitate-able voice — I’m betting that at least one of your friends, or maybe you, dear reader, can do a great Walken impression — that one can forget how he got to this position. So “Late Quartet,” for all its faults, mostly in the script, serves as a good reminder of his acting skills.

Mr. Walken plays Peter Mitchell, cellist for the Fugue Quartet, a tight-knit (and highly strung) ensemble that is celebrating its 25th year. On second violin and viola respectively, we have the husband-wife team of Robert (Phillip Seymour Hoffman) and Juliette (Catherine Keener), and on first violin, and determining the sound of the quartet, there is Daniel (Mark Ivanir), who also instructs Robert and Juliette’s daughter, Alexandra (Imogen Poots).

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