Quartet (12A)

Director: Dustin Hoffman
Starring: Maggie Smith, Tom Courtenay , Billy Connolly
& Pauline Collins

Oscar-winning actor Dustin Hoffman waited until he was in his mid-70s to direct his first feature film. His adaptation of Ronald Harwood’s 1999 play is a thoroughly British affair. Set at one of England’s most scenic estates, the fictional Beecham House for Retired Musicians, Quartet centres on four opera singers. Cecily (Pauline Collins), Wilfred (Billy Connolly), and Reginald (Tom Courtenay) are busy preparing for the annual Verdi Gala when word spreads about a famous new resident. When Reggie catches sight of the elegant figure, his excitement about the benefit gives way to sorrow: it’s his ex-wife, Jean (Maggie Smith). If the amusingly acid-tongued Jean appears to have moved on Reggie hasn’t, and still blames her for the failure of their brief marriage. Under the directorship of Cedric (Michael Gambon), they continue to rehearse for the concert, except 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 just as Cissy’s memory starts to fade, but priorities shift as old friends become reacquainted. Hoffman skillfully honours the humour, the romance, and the music of Harwood’s warm-hearted script. ( 1h 38m)