Quartet ***

quartet-film-cast

Running Time: 98 mins Certificate: 12A

Synopsis In an old country house,  former opera singers live out their retirements and in harmony. But the arrival of one of the residents’ ex-wife, a diva named Jean (Maggie Smith), brings back bad memories for mild mannered Reginald (Tom Courtenay).

 

It has taken decades for Dustin Hoffman to finally go behind the camera to direct after several failed attempts in the past, including one incident where he was actually fired from the set. What seems strange is that an accomplished actor would tackle a slow English drama as his debut.

 

The story on the whole is too light with little character development for an audience to feel and respond to these characters. There is only conflict between the two main characters of Jean and Reg.  There is also the problem that there are too many secondary characters who we see from time to time, but they may as well be in the background.

 

Where the film adds an extra note is in the performances. Smith and Courtenay  are the  heart and soul to the piece. While Billy Connolly and Pauline Collins completely steal the show as the other members of the quartet. Connolly brings some much needed humour, most of which is ad-libbed.  Collins also brings humour and sympathy to a character who is in the early stages of dementia.

 

An entertaining and charming movie, but without the actual quartet would have been tuneless.

 

Reviewed by Paul Logan

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