Written by Phil Cerroni
By Matt Mungle
The new PG-13 drama Quartet is about a group of retired opera singers staging a gala concert at the Beecham House retirement village. Good luck keeping your 12 year old from sneaking into this one. Yes this is definitely a film geared toward a small demographic of movie goers who appreciate abundant dialogue and aged actors who still know how to deliver emotion. Vocal music appreciation is a plus as well.
As they are planning for their annual fund raising concert, Beecham House is excited about their new resident. The mood changes when the find it is Jean Horton (Maggie Smith) an egocentric diva whose solo career over shadowed the groups accomplishments in the hay day of their professions. No one is more upset than Reginald Paget (Tom Courtenay), the ex-husband of Jean and the one most affected by her success. The rest of the group try and keep the peace while working around her still large ego.
Though this is a slow paced film and at times feels more like the stage play it was adapted for it still has great acting moments. The strong British cast led by Smith, Courtenay, and Billy Connolly help you to attach yourself to the characters. There is enough comedy (though mainly old people jokes) to break up the drama of the situation. It is also has a premise that isn’t used much. That of, “where do retired musicians go?” Those performers of classical music seldom make it into a movie storyline and even more rare once they are past their performance prime. So that was an interesting angle in which to deliver this story.
The film is directed by Dustin Hoffman. It is safe to call this his debut in that chair and you have to wonder what grabbed him about this particular story. He does a decent job of allowing each scene to relay the appropriate feeling and the slow script could have bogged down in many places. As an actor he was well suited to allow these long time performers the opportunity to use their abilities to make each character solid.
Quartet is rated PG-13 for brief strong language and suggestive humor. Like many films of this nature there is always the one old guy who has to turn every sentence and moment into a naughty sexual innuendo. If, like the other characters in the film, you can ignore him then you should be alright with everything else.
I give it 3 out of 5 arias; certainly one that has the right place and time in your viewing schedule. Fans of film festivals and art-house dramas will probably enjoy it and think it a solid film. Anyone looking for cutting edge language, characters, or twists will need to look elsewhere.