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Quartet, Families and Life-cycle. A film review

5 October 2014

Yesterday I finally came around to watch “A Late Quartet”, the 2012 debut movie of director  Yaron Zilberman, majestically performed by Walken, the late Seymour Hoffman, Keener and Ivanir. It is a tale of a string quartet whose characters have played and grown together over a period of 25 years and who now have to face the end of their journey as a group. One of the members has been diagnosed with Parkinson and will depart the Quartet after one last performance all together.

This string quartet is the perfect metaphor of a family.  They can both be seen as“systems”, what Bowen used to call “emotional units “, whose individual parts are strictly interconnected and interdependent. What happens to one member ofthe quartet, who in this film has to face the diagnosis of Parkinson, affects deeply not only the quartet as a group but every single member and strikingly, every relationship between its members.

Illness, bereavement, death but also more joyful events of our life cycle such as marriage, childbirth have a strong impact on each family member, on the way they relate to each other, the way they perceive their own life. The challenge of every part is to accept and undergo change, re-organizing roles and rules, re-defining the relationships with each other to adapt to the events that may have just occurred in their family.  Nothing will be exactly the same anymore but how to preserve what keeps us together as a group? If the group has changed,how will it affect me?

How to combine our individual needs and the needs of the groups we belong to?

This is exactly one of the themes from the movie “a Late Quartet”. Can the quartet survive after the loss of their oldest and wisest member? How can the remaining members achieve the task of change, individually develop and stay together at the same time?

Each individual needs to accept their inevitable life cycle events, behave in a way that is functional to the wellbeing of the group but also find a harmony between the requests of the "system" (group) and their individual needs.  Most likely this transition between the world as we knew it and the “new” reality will feel uncertain, unsettling, confusing and…scary! 

We are indeed required to accomplish a tricky task. Remembering how things used to be, cherish those moments while never stop evolving, embracing what the future holds for us and for our "new" families, teams, groups. The exciting challenge is to imagine us as storytellers. Every day can offer a new way to tell and re-write stories of ourselves and our family, sharing anecdotes, jokes, showing old photos to younger generations,new friends, new members who were not there to witness and who we must allow to take us by their hands and to lead us to our future.

Carla Di Falco


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