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Quartet (1981)

Marya finds herself penniless after her art dealer husband, Stephan, is convicted of theft. Marya accepts the hospitality of a strange couple, H.J. and Lois Heidler, who lets her live in their house.

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Nominated for 1 BAFTA Film Award. Another 2 wins & 1 nomination. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
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Théo the Pornographer
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Mme. Hautchamp
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Anna
Armelia McQueen ...
Night Club Singer
Wiley Wood ...
Cairn
Virginie Thévenet ...
Daniel Chatto ...
Guy
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Miss Nicholson
Paulita Sedgwick ...
Esther
Sébastien Floche ...
Edouard Hautchamp
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Storyline

It's 1927 Paris. Following the conviction of her art dealer husband, Stephan Zelli, for theft for which he was handed a one-year prison sentence, Marya Zelli, originally from West India, moves in with her acquaintances, expatriate Brits H.J. and Lois Heidler. Marya knows that H.J. in particular has more in mind than just providing her lodging out of the goodness of his heart. From behind bars, Stephan encourages Marya to move in with them not knowing H.J.'s intentions. Marya agrees in part because she, being a foreigner, cannot get work and would thus become destitute otherwise. She learns she is the latest in a long line of lodgers. She also learns that H.J. and Lois' marriage is not all that it appears on the surface. The Heidler's hold on Marya becomes stronger when they convince her that Stephan not only has no money but has no future in France after his release. Their collective lives become more complicated when Stephan is released from jail and tries to figure out what he's ... Written by Huggo

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Genres:

Drama | Romance

Certificate:

R | See all certifications »
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Release Date:

25 October 1981 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Kvartett  »

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1.78 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Maggie Smith would star in another movie named Quartet (2012) about 31 years later, however the only similarities between the two films are the title and Smith. See more »

Quotes

Marya 'Mado' Zelli: We always said we'd be together when you came out.
Stephan Zelli: You don't come out. Nobody ever comes out.
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Connections

Featured in The Wandering Company (1984) See more »

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Arabesque Valsante
Composed by Mischa Levitsky
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User Reviews

 
A serious disappointment
20 February 2003 | by (Lexington, Kentucky) – See all my reviews

It's hard to say exactly why "Quartet" fails. There are certainly some good things to be said; Maggie Smith gives her character just the right mix of not-too-subtle cynicism and self-loathing, and the photography by Pierre Lhomme does a fine job of complementing the surroundings. But there is something missing. The Merchant-Ivory-Jhabvala trio have always invested their stories with a strong compassion for their characters, lending a quiet urgency to the tone. Yet there is little of that feeling here.

The desperation of Isabelle Adjani's Marya simply does not ring clear, perhaps because her emotions are kept at a distance from the viewer when they should be brought to the forefront of the story. Marya views Heidler (Alan Bates) as a dominating force, but her fears and his intimidation never develop into anything effective. Bates is an actor who can always be depended on to provide a good performance, but his character is not given enough weight to dominate the screen when he should. In films such as `Howards End' and `The Remains of the Day,' the emotional conflicts between the characters drive the story and keep the (attentive) viewer involved; here, the conflicts do not spurn enough interest because the motivations of those involved are not very clear. The overall effect of "Quartet" is very cold and somber, with few, if any, memorable results.


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