Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
Genre: Comedy, Drama
Run Time: 1 hour, 38 minutes, Rated PG-13
Starring: Maggie Smith, Michael Gambon, Tom Courtenay, Billy Connolly, Pauline Collins
Based on the play and screenplay by Ronald Harwood
Directed by Dustin Hoffman (feature-film directorial debut)
Quartet marks the directorial debut for 75-year old, long-time actor, Dustin Hoffman. Cut from the same cloth as last year's The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, Quartet is a film featuring a talented cast of "senior" British actors, centering on the idea that there can still be enjoyment and excitement in life, even in one's golden years.
The film takes place inside a retirement home, but this one is a bit unique. Its inhabitants are all former musicians, from all walks of life and who still get a joy out of performing. This particular group puts on a show each year as a fundraiser, headed by the perfectionist Cedric (Michael Gambon, best known to modern audiences as Dumbledore), who still takes his "art" very seriously.
But this is not Glee for old people. It is a very specific story about a former singing quartet, who once found their 15-minutes of fame performing a stellar opera. Billy Connolly plays Wilf, a horny old man who uses the young gardener to smuggle in some whiskey. Then there is Cissy (Pauline Collins) the dear and sweet soprano who is starting to lose her marbles. Then there is Reggie (Tom Courtenay, in a fine performance), who is a bit more stodgy than the others, but seems deeply wounded.
The quartet is reunited upon the arrival of Jean (Maggie Smith) to the community home. It has been years since they have seen her, as she had gone on to find the most fame of the group. She was once in love with Reggie, and he is completely blindsided by her reappearance.
With a light and whimsical tone from the very start, Quartet creates a unique environment and introduces a delightful cast of players. Connolly particularly, is given multiple one-liners that are laugh-out-loud funny. Why is it so damn funny to watch a horny, unfiltered old man on film?
But once the film gets through the introductions, the excitement slowly dwindles. Reggie is not happy with Jean, but we see their reunion coming a mile away. Some goes for the reunion of the quartet itself, who must get together for one final performance for the upcoming show. Wouldn't you know, Jean has lost her voice. I wonder if she will get it back.
There is much to like in Quartet, namely the performances. Stay through the credits to discover that each resident in the home is actually a real-life, famous musician, including Michael Gambon himself.
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