For this year’s A-To-Z Challenge, my theme is MOVIES. I will be working my way through the alphabet during the month of April with movie titles and short blurbs about each movie. Today’s movie is “Quartet.”
“Quartet” was a 2012 British comedy-drama film based on the play Quartet by Ronald Harwood, which ran in London’s West End from September 1999 until January 2000. The movie was filmed late in 2011 and it was actor Dustin Hoffman’s directorial debut.
The story takes place in Beecham House, a retirement home for former professional musicians. Reggie (Tom Courtenay), Wilfred (Bill Connolly), and Cecily (Pauline Collins) are retired opera singers who often worked together in the past. Among other residents are Cedric Livingstone, (Michael Gambone) a former director, and diva Anne Langley (Maggie Smith). All the guests in the retirement home are suffering in varying degrees the ailments old age can bring but continue to be engaged in their former professions in one way or another, including lecturing and introducing young people to music.
The resident opera singers are busy preparing for the Beecham House’s annual Verdi Gala when a rumor starts circulating in the halls that the home for retired musicians is soon to play host to a famous new resident. But they’re in for a special shock when the new arrival turns out to be none other than their former singing partner, Jean, who also happens to be Reggie’s ex-wife. Jean’s subsequent career as a star soloist, and the ego that accompanied it, split up the long friendship with her former singing partners and ended her marriage to Reggie, who takes the news of her arrival particularly hard. Jean appears to have moved on, but Reggie hasn’t, and still blames her for the failure of their brief marriage.
Under the directorship of Cedric, the retired singers continue to rehearse for the concert, except for Jean, who says she’s retired from singing, though her former partners long to perform their acclaimed version of Verdi’s Rigoletto. As they concentrate on persuading her to reconsider, the ice between Reggie and Jean starts to thaw and priorities shift as the old friends become reacquainted.
Dustin Hoffman waited until he was in his mid-70s to direct his first feature film. The movie, clearly aimed at an older audience, doesn’t offer many significant surprises. But it’s a very pleasant, engaging, and heartwarming film skillfully crafted by Hoffman with a mix of humor, romance, and some beautiful performed music.