Review: A Family Quartet (2017)

A Family Quartet (2017)

Directed by: Simonka de Jong | 90 minutes | documentary | With: Noa Wildschut, Avigal Wildschut

What does it do to a family when a child has an incredible talent? The beautiful ‘A Family Quartet’ follows the Wildschut family. Father is a violist, mother calls herself a violin teacher. The love for the stringed instrument was also instilled in their two daughters from an early age. The older of the two, Avigal, is not an unqualified player. But the most gifted is the youngest member of the family: Noa.

The musical prodigy played her first solos for a large orchestra at a young age, has won a number of prestigious prizes and is also gaining fame abroad. ‘A Family Quartet’ is a big part of that. The documentary starts when the ever good-natured Noa is only eleven years old and follows the family until she is fourteen.

From great highs (the solo performances) to deep lows (a long-lasting finger injury), everything has an impact on the family. But just as the documentary gives both girls space, the two loving parents try as best they can to divide their attention between their two daughters. Whether that works is up to the viewer. ‘A Family Quartet’ was filmed according to the ‘fly on the wall’ principle. The camera is objective at all times. In the three years filmed, filmmaker Simonka de Jong is there on many occasions, but only to record those moments. No questioning interviews or guiding staging. De Jong films as it happened. The image (and sound) speaks for itself.

It is interesting that ‘A Family Quartet’ gives so much space to the less talented, bigger sister. Although Noa, despite her talent, practices all the time, the contrast with her sister is great. Avigal struggles with sheet music, homework and life. Like any of us. It is precisely this contrast that gives Noa’s talent extra cachet. And do you realize the emotion of a Brazilian boy, a few years older, who is allowed to play a piece of Bach with the early adult, but at the same time shy and sometimes lonely girl. The boy has to pull out all the stops not to burst into tears. At such a moment as a spectator you also fight against the tears. Never seen such a genuinely beautiful piece of film.

An extra eulogy is due to the sound team. The many violin sounds, Noa regularly gives a taste of her abilities, come across impeccably on the silver screen. It’s actually not allowed in this medium, but ‘A Family Quartet’ is also an enchanting film with eyes closed.

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