Pumpkin Soup is the story of a duck, a cat and a squirrel who live in perfect harmony in a cabin deep in the woods. Their days are spent making the best pumpkin soup in the world and playing their instruments. Everything is happiness in the old white cabin until Duck announces he doesn’t want to add salt in the soup anymore—a chore he’s been performing with great success for as long as they’ve been together. Now he wants to stir the soup.
Except that stirring the soup is the Squirrel’s job.
The request results in a monumental quarrel between the animals followed by rupture and maybe (even) the loss of friendship. In a similar fashion, violinist Robert (Philip Seymour Hoffman) upsets his string quartet’s dynamic when he decides he doesn’t want to be second violin anymore, but first. This daring idea comes after elder cellist, Peter (Christopher Walken) announces he’s in the earliest stages of Parkinson’s and must leave the quartet after 25 seasons together. Not only do the quartet members have to navigate the early retirement of their beloved mentor, but also the ego clashes between Robert and first violinist Daniel (Mark Ivanir). Add to the mix the questionable loyalty of Robert’s wife and viola player, Juliette, and their passionate daughter, Alexandra, and you have all the elements of a powerful drama.
|The Fugue in its days of glory|
|Not too different from this trio's happy days|
Aside from stellar performances and a somewhat unpredictable plot, I enjoyed the music (the film plays a tribute to Beethoven’s Opus 131 in C-sharp minor) but even more the exploration of human nature and how resilient we are to change. In Spanish there is a saying that goes like this: “Mas vale malo conocido que bueno por conocer.” I believe the English translation is “Better the Devil you know.” In A Late Quartet, Robert and Peter represent change, whereas Daniel and Juliette stand for the formula that has already worked for them. Even when Robert introduces the concept that if they don’t take risks, they’ll never know how great they can become, the threat of change is so frightening to some of them that the dissolution of the group seems a preferable and imminent option.
|Mmm... what could this flamenco dancer have to do with a string quartet? |
You'll have to watch the film to know!
A Late Quartet was released in the Fall of 2012 and was only in theaters for a short time, it seems, but don’t let that stop you from watching it! (And if you do, come back and tell me what you think!)
Did you watch this film? Why do you think we're so resistant to change?