Walken plays Peter Mitchell, the most senior member of the aforementioned collective, who's recently been diagnosed with Parkinson's disease. Consequently, the news of Peter's degenerative condition is the catalyst for the group's own deterioration. Peter's daughter Juliette (Keener) is understandably the most devastated and refuses to replace him with a younger cellist. However, her former lover and 1st violinist Daniel (Mark Ivanir) and her husband Robert (Hoffman) - who literally plays second fiddle to Daniel - are both far more concerned with the long term future of the group than the immediate welfare of one of their own.
However, what could have been a tense drama of escalating tension played out in adagio often finds itself registering in a falsetto more akin to the mawkish bravura of a soap opera than the delicate and pensive drama it pertains to be. Beethoven's Opus 131 is the film's thematic foundation; yet, whilst a smart bonding agent between the mediums of music and film, Zilberman still fails to make the most of it. Peter, whilst teaching a class, explains that the opus is "played for so long without pause, that the instruments become out of tune. What are we supposed to do? Stop or struggle to adjust." Whilst this theory is implemented to a point, A Late Quartet has far too many subplots vying for audience attention - a mess of clashing philosophies.
Despite a rich and evocative subject, an inventive and intelligent narrative framework and a menagerie of established acting luminaries positioned where they need to be, Zilberman's A Late Quartet ends up being little more than a muddled cacophony of clichéd dramatic twists and transparent developments, somehow belying its eloquent and graceful leitmotif. By no means a travesty, this functional tale remains a failed experiment in imbuing two of humanity's most emotive art forms.