11 Feb


Synopsis: “At a home for retired musicians, the annual concert to celebrate Verdi’s birthday is disrupted by the arrival of Jean, an eternal diva and the former wife of one of the residents.” (Rated PG-13; 1 hour 37 minutes)

Movies about aging generally have an innate ability to affect me. In the most devastating of times it can be like the current Best Picture nominee Amour (previously reviewed in this blog), but more typically it is in a cute comedy interspersed with moments of sadness. This can range from films such as The Full Monty to The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, a movie that immediately comes to mind when watching this one. Just last year Marigold Hotel was released, also starred Maggie Smith, and was about older British people in a strange kind of retirement facility.

Quartet is about a beautiful retirement estate for old musicians. The wonderful thing about it is the tremendous life that flows through the movie, which is essentially about how aging deteriorates us all. One of the opening shots of the movie is of an old hand playing beautiful piano music, but grabbing itself carefully from some ailment, and Billy Connolly being examined by the doctor and clearly getting sicker. But rather than spending most of the movie focusing on each person and feeling sorry for them, it sidesteps that for the most part and focuses on what each and every one of these elderly musicians CAN still do. And that even if it’s less great than it used to be, it still feels pretty damn good doing what you can in life.

These messages may sound wonderful, or they may sound corny, and they may be cliched; possibly a combination of all three. But Dustin Hoffman makes his directorial debut with some pretty great British actors portraying aging with all of its frustrations, but also with an “it’s not over for us” attitude that really inspires. One of the most wonderful elements to the movie is that most of the supporting actors are real, older musicians, and it made it all the more lovely to watch them perform throughout the movie. Some of them were playing the clarinet while trying to catch their breath, and others were singing opera, but all were a heck of a lot better than most of us can ever hope to be, whether they’ve gone downhill or not. It’s just a lovely sight to see interspersed throughout the movie.

Bonus points for Billy Connolly acting as an old horn-dog, and Tom Courtenay for what feels like a very natural and raw performance.

I’m not claiming the movie has the most original story, nor that it isn’t full of predictable scenes; but it just does everything in a very likable way that made me care about each and every character and makes me hope that we all can retire in a facility half as beautiful as the one they live in!

On a more personal note, this was the first movie I saw as an engaged man, and we both really loved the story which includes hope and love that can last a lifetime!

The movie was a bit better than The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, which also portrayed some characters living their twilight years in retirement; but not as good as Another Year, which included some English characters aging in an absolutely magnificent movie by Mike Leigh.

Quality Rating: B+ (A somewhat typical movie but set in such an unusual context that really makes it extra special.)

Boaz Rating: B+


2 Responses to “Quartet”

  1. Mike Burgher February 13, 2013 at 4:21 pm #

    This is by far Billy Connelly’s best performance ever since his role as “Billy” on the final and underrated season of TV’s “Head of the Class”. Admittedly, I was a bit disappointed they cut out Danny McBride’s cameo as the mullet-headed boyfriend-on-the-side of Maggie Smith…but I guess that gives us all something to look forward to when the Director’s Cut DVD comes out in May! Also, kudos to Dustin Hoffman, who will no longer just be associated with films like “Sphere” and “Outbreak”. This movie may be the BREAKOUT (get the pun?) he’s been looking for!


    • boazconstrictor February 13, 2013 at 4:33 pm #

      Oh Mike, your hysterical commentaries are welcome any time, on any of my posts. 🙂


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