During a future ice age, dying humanity occupies its remaining time by playing a board game called "Quintet." For one small group, this obsession is not enough; they play the game with living pieces ... and only the winner survives.
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In the distant future the world is in the grip of another ice age. A city originally built to house five million people is now in its death throes as the relentlessly advancing glacier is slowly crushing the metropolis's steel infrastructure. The relatively few surviving fur-clad inhabitants, perhaps thousands, perhaps only hundreds, drift aimlessly in their grim, drab world, awaiting their inevitable fate as they try to survive from day to day with scavenged firewood and minimal diet. Their only solaces are booza, an alcoholic drink distilled from moss, and Quintet, a seemingly innocuous board game for six players. The only other surviving mammals are roving packs of hungry mastiffs which roam the city's corridors and quickly dispose of the remains of the dead. Newly arrived from the south is Essex with his pregnant wife Vivia, seeking shelter in the doomed city only to find it populated by people middle-aged or older. They had supported themselves by hunting seals, but now that the ... Written by
It's a shame that I'd held off so long before finally watching this film - on TV at midnight, no doubt. Many have criticized and disowned this film, citing it as a low point for Robert Altman and nothing more, but this is an unfair judgement. While it may not deliver to fans of "Nashville" and "M.A.S.H.," "Quintet" is a provocative and eerily unsettling bit of cinematic science fiction. Its depiction of a post-apocalyptic ice age is frighteningly vivid, and its nihilistic theme is perhaps one of the reasons many find it off-putting. However, if you're looking for a diamond in the rough, "Quintet" could quite possibly be the movie you're looking for. Altman may not be in top form here, but he certainly creates a vision worth noticing.
* A point of note - "Quintet" was filmed at the old Expo '67 site in Montréal, Québec, adding to the film's vision of decay and abandonment.
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