Film is sure to pull at the heart strings

OUTSTANDING: Christopher Walken is the cellist/leader of the string quartet.
OUTSTANDING: Christopher Walken is the cellist/leader of the string quartet.

Title: Performance

Director: Yaron Zilberman

Rated: M

HOT on the heels of Dustin Hoffman's successful directorial feature, Quartet, comes Performance.

Both films concern classical music and musicians, so to avoid confusion with Hoffman's film, the latter movie was changed from its original title, A Late Quartet, to Performance for its Australian release, which somewhat confuses it with the cult classic Performance (1970), which starred Mick Jagger.

Following his first feature film, a documentary, the Israeli-American director, Yaron Zilberman, has certainly benefited, by assembling an outstanding cast for this fascinating study of the personal and musical dynamics of an elite group of classical musicians.

Zilberman also co-wrote the screenplay with Seth Grossman.

Christopher Walken is outstanding as the cellist/leader of the distinguished string quartet, The Fugue. Facing a serious illness and grieving the loss of his wife, he is trying to guide the quartet to what could be a final performance at its 25th anniversary concert.

But revealing his condition sets off a series of dramas within the group, including egos, professional envy, passions and betrayal.

This is a film that could easily have lapsed into melodrama, and there are moments when it veers in that direction, but it is so well-written that it manages to avoid sentimentality, and the players are in superlative form.

Philip Seymour Hoffman once again presents a wonderfully complex character and also appears totally authentic as the second violinist in the quartet, with Catherine Keener as his wife Juliette, the violist Mark Ivanir as the brilliant first violinist Mark, and Imogen Poots as the challenging protégé Alexandra.

This is an elegantly crafted film that deals with the flaws, ambitions and jealousies of the characters, but amid all the tightly wound emotions, this is at heart a music film. Performance features some stunning music leading up to the climactic anniversary concert, Beethoven's String Quartet No 14 - played by the Bretano String Quartet.

Yaron Zilberman has created a most sensitive and moving story that traces the talents and bonds that hold a group together, the wonderful power of their music and the fractures that can destroy them. Highly recommended. 

Performance will be screened at Star Court Theatre, Lismore, on Sunday, April 12 at 5.30pm and Friday, April 14 at 7.30pm.

Topics:  movie reviews opinion

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