Very different from the ghoulish Americana of his debut, the horror-satire Parents, character actor Balaban's second feature is a compassionate and assured portrait of old age. Isolated in his Brooklyn apartment, Mueller-Stahl's immigrant German violinist broods on his past, haunted by sexual images of his late wife. An unlikely friendship with D'Abo's youthful stray, however, is to prove that he hasn't loosened his grip on life entirely, while the fortitude of cigar-chomping pal Stander in the face of terminal odds gives him renewed courage to continue. Adapted by Balaban and John McLaughlin from the novel by Richard Bausch, the result's a honed, if conventional testament to human resilience, delivered with unsentimental grit by the reliably excellent Mueller-Stahl, and toppped by an affecting performance from the veteran Stander - his last, and a worthy closer.
Cast and crew