Quartet | Dustin Hoffman | 2012
Adapted from a play by Ron Harwood, Quartet centers on a retirement home for opera singers and other musicians set in the English countryside, with a focus on the rejuvenating and healing power of music. Former opera stars Wilf (Billy Connolly) and Reggie (Tom Courtney) spend their days at the home enjoying their retirement without much pressure.
While Reggie passes the time teaching in order to illustrate the connection between classic music and popular forms, the boisterous Wilf spends his hours gleefully hitting on fellow retiree Cissy (Pauline Collins) as the trio reminisce about the old days. Each year at the home, on Giuseppe Verdi?s birthday, the residents arrange a concert designed to raise money for the residence. Usually a smooth-running event, this year?s gala is affected both by the retirement home being in peril of closing due to lack of funds, as well as by the recent arrival of Jean Horton (Maggie Smith), a once-famous diva, Reggie?s (Tom Courtenay) ex and the fourth, most famous member of the former quartet. Having sworn off singing once her abilities began to fade, Jean is hesistant to reunite with her former partners to revisit their famous quartet performance from “Rigoletto” for the gala, even though it may save the home once and for all.
An admirable directorial debut for Hoffman featuring marvellous performances from veteran actors and an ensemble cast of real retired musicians and opera stars, Quartet is an enthralling and enjoyable lark. Peppered with wonderful details including a truly hilarious performance from Michael Gambon in a minor role, Hoffman?s film tells of the urge to feel alive again, to use music and art as a way of living forever.
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