Dustin Hoffman‘s directorial debut on paper might either appeal to you or not interest you at all, but I’ll have you know that Quartet is every fraction charming. It is undeniable that recent Box Office successes like The Iron Lady, Hope Springs, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel and even Red, prove that there is indeed a market for an older audience and wouldn’t you know it… Grandpa and Grandma want to have a bit of fun too! And Quartet delivers just this.
The Dramedy is set at Beacham House, a Seniors’ Home occupied largely by retired Musicians. With news of a Fundraising Gala in-the-making for the financially-challenged Home, old passions are awakened once again as Jean (Maggie Smith) – once a top Diva – must put aside her pride and accept her current financial state, accepting Charity by living quietly at the Home. She crosses paths with Ex-Husband Reginald (Tom Courtenay) and old Pals, including the colourful Cecily (Pauline Collins) and free-spirited Wilf (Billy Connolly). Reginald however, hasn’t quite forgiven Jean for a past mistake nor is he willing to forgive. It is however, the Music which brought these four together several years ago. Now with Beacham House needing the money, Reginald, Cecily and Wilf, must convince a reluctant and jaded Jean to join with them once again to perform as a Quartet at the Gala, potentially bringing-in a large sum of money for the Home.
Despite a few minor mistimed plot movements, including Reginald‘s all-too-sudden forgiveness of Jean what I’d consider a bit of a letdown at the end here, Hoffman puts forth a wonderful effort with Quartet. He grabs our attention, pulling us in just enough tension to keep us invested throughout. We absolutely believe Jean and Tom’s turbulent history without ever witnessing it, we buy the deep-rooted friendship binding these four wonderfully-played Principal Characters, and most of all we believe that they really are seasoned Musicians without them even singing a note on-screen.
Quartet is a Love Song to aging with grace, even if it hits some of the more sour notes that come with it. I can’t think of a place more fun to retire one day than Beacham House. Alliance Films releases Quartet in Toronto, Vancouver, Montreal, Calgary, Edmonton, Halifax, Victoria on January 18, 2013 and Ottawa on January 25, 2013.