If you like fast paced action movies and thrillers, then Quartet is probably not for you. If, on the other hand, you prefer something gentler and warmer, where the laughs come from the situations and the acting, and from a fine script , you will almost certainly enjoy the warmth and humour of this story of four singers in their twilight years. The humour in the film can be subtle in places and even a little wicked but
The story does not seem, to me, to be completely original in places, having echoes of other movies, but it is told in a beautiful setting, with a fine cast who breathe life into their characters. It is set in Beecham House, a home for retired musicians and a place where I think many of the generation that will enjoy the movie might imagine themselves.
The ‘Quartet’ around whom the story revolves is Wilf, Reggie, Cissy and Jean, played respectively by Billy Connolly, Tom Courtenay, Pauline Collins and Dame Maggie Smith, and is the directing debut of Dustin Hoffman. Whilst I suspect that the critics’ reviews (none of which I have read) have likely given the acting plaudits to Tom Courtenay and Maggie Smith; for me the stand out performance was Pauline Collins as sweet, slightly scatty Cissy, who is gradually loosing her memory and for whom Wilf and Reggie in particular are as much her family as her friends.
As well as the eponymous ‘Quartet’, the there are many other fine actors and musicians in the story, like Michael Gambon as the irascible director of Beeacham House’s annual fund raising gala show, on Verdi’s birthday. As much as anything, the film is a celebration of age and that retirement from work does not have to mean retirement from living a life, as opposed to just having life.
Dr. Lucy Cogan: We have the chair lift, which will be much easier for you.
Jean: What do I do when I get to the top, ski down?