A company of aged opera singers living a quiet life in Beecham House, a rural, picturesque retirement home are surprised to find that their old associate, connected to them through love, friendship and betrayal, become their latest resident.
A film about Opera set in an old-people’s home. Transformers it aint. Nor is it Eraserhead, Solaris, or Spaceballs. It’s as hard edged as a toothless pensioner so if you feed your celluloid need on the Saw movies or the latest Nicolas Winding Refn outing then you could feel a bit short-changed with Quartet. But Dustin Hoffman’s first film behind the chair is sweet and optimistic, aided by a cast of first rate veterans. Pauline Collins takes a part that could have become exasperating with a lesser talent and gives it a soul, Billy Connolly never lets his ability as a comedian overstate his performance and Tom Courtenay and Maggie Smith are what you would expect, but the film helps itself by populating the halls of the retirement home with genuine musicians; singers, pianists, an orchestra’s worth of matured talent. There are some points where you feel a more skilled director could have got more out of the technicalities of the filmmaking process and plot points come and go without much thought at all but essentially this is an actor’s film and who better to get the best of out the cast than one of cinemas greatest?
It’s also important to say that in the cinema, as I sat with my Grandmother, the average age was easily above 55, and it went down like a polite, well-behaved storm.