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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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(novel), (screenplay) | 1 more credit »
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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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Armelia McQueen ...
Night Club Singer
Wiley Wood ...
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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Details

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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

Guy: Why is love like Rasputin? Because you can poison it. And you can stab it! And you can knock it down in the mud. But it will always get up. Don't you think that's good? Don't you think that's funny? Love will not die. It simply will not die. Just like Rasputin.
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Connections

Referenced in The Last Horror Film (1982) See more »

Soundtracks

Arabesque Valsante
Composed by Mischa Levitsky
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User Reviews

 
Bleaker than the real-life version.
4 November 2001 | by See all my reviews

Abandoned in Paris with no work permit and no savings, when her art-dealing (illegal) Polish husband is sent to prison, Marya Zelli (Isabelle Adjani) accepts the hospitality of the Heidlers, Lois and H.J.(as Lois invariably calls him) which, probably inevitably, involves her providing bed service to H.J. The video box describes the Heidlers as a "freethinking British couple" - if you can accept a couple, with such limited self-awareness and inability to talk through their problems, as freethinkers.

The film is based on the novel by Jean Rhys, based on her own experiences with Ford Madox Ford who presumably had more going for him than H.J., or else he wouldn't be in all those books on the literature of the twenties. Apparently Ford helped Rhys with her novel, and after he tired of her body got her a ghost-writing job on the Riviera. Rhys' husband was out of prison and had abandoned her before she moved in with the Fords. Presumably her major motivation was her devotion to her writing. Marya Zelli, in the film is not a writer, and she stays in Paris because her husband is still in prison. She says more than once to Lois that if given 100 Fr she would disappear (back to England where she could legally work?) but she gets 250 Fr just before moving in with the Heidlers when she sells almost everything she has to the hotel concierge.

Thus while the film is of the desperation of no choice, Marya has in fact fewer options than the real-life Rhys, and the film ending where Marya is thrown on the mercy of her husband's acquaintance from prison, is very bleak, unlike Rhys' fate of being ejected to a writing job.


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