Before a concert I like to find out a bit about the music, if I can, as it is a one time only experience (you might be able to hear the music again, but not see that performance a second time live). However, I like to go to a movie without knowing too much in advance. It allows you to be open to your own interpretation and you have the opportunity to see a movie again.
classikON Ambassador, Sue & I definitely weren’t ready for the emotional roller-coaster for the 105 minutes of the movie. It is about a New York string quartet struggling to rehearse Beethoven’s Fugue for their final performance at Carnegie Hall.
Renamed, from A Late Quartet, to Performance for screening in Australia to avoid confusion with Dustin Hoffman directing debut Quartet. It seems to be a popular theme to have the clash of musician personalities put into a film.
Sue & I laughed, cried and at moments gasped “don’t do it” through the film. It had a great interplay of friendships built by performing together as a quartet for decades making them a business and a family. At the same time struggling with past decisions made and how they directed their lives now. It had some linkages with Flinders Quartet & Red Stitch’s production of Behind Closed Doors last year.
While a dramatised story, it does give insight into the emotional intensity that could be behind any performance. When you see a concert live it isn’t a group of musicians just getting on stage to play and that can be forgotten when sitting in the audience.
Not being musicians ourselves we left wondering if a quartet’s life could be like this and asked: Would musicians feel the same way when they watch the film?
Philip Seymour Hoffman, Catherine Keener, Christopher Walken, Imogen Poots, Wallace Shawn.
Directed by Yaron Zilberman.
Set in contemporary Manhattan, Performance tells the story of four musicians, bound together by their passion for music and long years of working together. But the highly-regarded string quartet struggles to stay together as they mark their 25th anniversary. When their patriarch Peter is diagnosed with a terminal illness, it throws the future of the famed group into question. His attempt to find a replacement player and organise rehearsals for their upcoming concert bring up unresolved issues and grievances. In the face of illness, competing egos and once-tempered lusts, can they pull together for one final great performance – of Beethoven’s Fugue at Carnegie Hall? The musicians must either find a way to overcome their troubles, and preserve their legacy – or part ways forever.