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I saw this in Savannah (Film Festival), with a crowd that was averaging
50 and above. Everybody was laughing through out the whole picture,
when I came out of the theater everybody only said nice things about
it, I have never seen so many old people come out of a theater so
Please see this film, NO MATTER WHAT AGE YOU ARE. People don't make movies for such a demographic, or at least rarely, this movie quite frankly made me weep, laugh, and have a range of feeling that I have not experience from any picture released this year!
Some moments hit you hard man, real hard, you might be laughing one scene and then the next scene you just realized that the 'thumb up' from one old man to the next gives chills on how life can end at any moment and at any time.
Dustin Hoffman, my man, you have made many people, many seniors of this country really happy, you have done what most always want but never will.
Thank You, to the cast and to the crew!!!!!
What remarkable good fortune that Dustin Hoffman chose this Ronald
Harwood play (and screenplay) for his directorial debut at age 75. This
is a movie for actors, and there are many terrific performances in this
wonderful ensemble piece about the residents of a home for aging
musicians, which we saw at our movie preview club.
But the warmth of the story - the vibrancy of the seniors playing string quartets and practicing their cellos and clarinets, their friendships, annoyances, disappointments, and even loves - marks this film as something very special.
Hoffman has taken a beautiful English estate and turned it into a world of music filled with well-drawn and compelling characters: the woman with advancing dementia who relishes the CD of her performing Rigoletto 40 years ago; the flirtatious Wilf, whose "advances" towards the women on staff are never offensive and always charming; the aging diva - the always wonderful Maggie Smith - who is horrified by the thought that by moving in her life is over.
The best drawn (and in my mind, played) character is Wilf's best friend Reggie, who doesn't get Wilf's preferential treatment but has a quiet dignity and love of his life and his art that quietly shines through. His scene teaching students by comparing opera and rap may be this film's best.
Reggie is played by one of the most underrated and powerful British actors of his time, the estimable Tom Courtenay. It's hard to believe it's been 50 years since he starred as a 25-year-old in The Loneliness of the Long-Distance Runner. In a performance of grace, nuance, and elegance, Courtenay outshines even Maggie Smith. Perhaps he's inspired by working again from a Harwood screenplay; it was Harwood who wrote The Dresser, an excellent 1983 vehicle for Courtenay and Albert Finney.
One more note: Finney was apparently supposed to play the Wilf role, but unfortunately was not up to it health-wise. But comedian Billy Connolly's performance is just splendid.
See this movie!
"Quartet" is the filmization of Ronald Harwood's 1999 play with the
screenplay by the author. The story is set in a retirement home for
musicians named for Sir Thomas Beecham. Plans are underway for the
annual concert fundraiser to coincide with Verdi's birthday. Heading
the gala committee is Cedric played by Michael Gambon. Kudos to Mr.
Gambon for rocking the caftan like no one since George Zucco in "Tarzan
and the Mermaids". One of Cedric's committee members is soprano Cissy
played by the delightful Pauline Collins. Cissy is a "getting worse" in
that her memory is failing. Her old stage partner Wilfred is the
resident naughty man of the home played by Billy Connolly in his
familiar raucous way. Wilfred delights in flirting outrageously with
all the women and needling Cedric. The more sedate Reg played by Tom
Courtenay came to the home to check on Wilf who had been admitted after
a slight stroke. Here Reg found his niche in caring for his friends and
holding classes for young people.
Into this garden spot comes a new resident, a noted opera star played by Maggie Smith. Jean is known to all and her appearance is less than appreciated by her former husband Reg. Her arrival shakes up his whole existence. There is also another "star" in residence brilliantly cast with Dame Gweneth Jones. The dagger-like looks that flash between the two divas, when the term meant more than demanding behavior, is worth the price of admission.
Jean's adjustment to the retirement home and a crisis with the annual gala are the concerns of the present. Reg's torment over the presence of his lost love makes old wounds fresh. Life is definitely not retiring in this home because, as Cissy is fond of quoting Bette Davis' remark, "old age is not for sissies".
Director Hoffman gives us many quiet moments to observe the entire ensemble as life swirls around the preparations for the all-important concert. We get to know the patient piano teacher/accompanist, the old song and dance men, the lifelong choristers, the pit musicians and the staff of the home, along with our "quartet". I laughed, I cried, I laughed again, and I cared. Highly recommended.
It isn't often one can say "I loved every moment", but for this film it's true! Never for an instant does Dustin Hoffman stray into overwrought drama, mawkishness or bathos: his direction is restrained and subtle, there is humour a-plenty, yet the film packs a powerful emotional punch. And with a cast like that, how could he lose? And that's not just the stars, although they create wonderfully satisfying characters: the "minor" characters are also perfectly realised. Plus, the settings!!!! I felt like rushing off to make a booking at Beecham's for my old age! With such a great ensemble cast we are well-served, though for me, Pauline Collins was a stand-out - funny and so touching. I think I'd like to see it again.
There are two obvious reasons to see this film. One is that it's Dustin
Hoffman's directing debut. The other is that any film with Billy
Connolly, Tom Courtenay, Maggie Smith and Michael Gambon is very
unlikely to be less than very good.
As it turns out, the film - set in a retirement home for classical musicians - is simply perfect: touching and amusing from the start, with generous but judicious doses of lovely music, shifting gears in an in-obtrusively sure-footed way. Billy Connolly (who was once a presence in my local hang-out) is about as close to his real self here as in any part I've seen him play: ribald, mischievous and large-hearted; the shameless jokester and flirt you nonetheless know you can always depend on. Courtenay is heart-rendingly endearing from the start, in the most quiet, under-stated way. Maggie Smith shows far more range than her now- stock Grande Dame parts usually allow her, including an unaccustomed vulnerability and a charming exercise, at one moment, of calculated yet shy girlish charm.
As one would expect from a director who is a great actor himself, the palette of characters here is vividly and colorfully incarnated by actors who are often memorable even in the most minor parts.
The music is both respectfully and affectionately integrated throughout, moving from noble classical pieces to a cheerful bit of music hall. And is paid a surprising homage in the credits, which continue the film's nod to age and accomplishment well past its not very surprising but still satisfying end.
Very few viewers, by the way, will sense the echos here - but no more - of a lovely French film from 1935 about a retirement home for actors: "La Fin du Jour":
Ronald Harwood ("The Pianist", "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly", etc) tells a very different story, but anyone who enjoys this one and understands enough French should certainly seek out the older film (with the great Michel Simon).
As a 16 year old, it's safe to say that this obviously is not a film
which is aimed at me at all, being based in a retirement home for old
musicians where cracking jokes about opera is, you know, hilarious. In
fact, the screening I was in was filled with those with white hair.
It's not often that I feel out of place at a cinema, but I on this
occasion I did.
Quartet, as you probably know, features a stellar cast of older actors; Maggie Smith and Tom Courtenay playing the reunited divorcées with a history; Billy Connolly as a pottering and senile old tenor, cracking double-entendres at every opportunity; and Pauline Collins, who in my opinion steals the show, as the ditzy ex-opera singer. What follows is an unashamedly predictable, but nevertheless solidly crafted and amusing drama that wouldn't look out of place on a Sunday afternoon TV slot. Minus the f-words, of course. Yes ,you can see its development from a mile off, and it rarely addresses the more serious and harrowing aspects of old-age as Haneke's 'Amour' did, but it's good natured, well scripted and amusing fun.
It's all through the typical rose-tinted, Downton-esque portrayal of Britain that we're all accustomed to, but with a cast like that and a gentle, sweet story, it's hard not to be eventually won over by its charm. I had a good time.
Firstly let me answer those who have stated that the senility was
over-acted for comic effect. IT WAS NOT. My mother worked in aged care
for many years, and I grew up with all this about me. It's exactly like
that. It was brilliantly done, all of it, all the actors... and wasn't
it a treat to see all the old opera and stage stars?
Some ''official'' critics, (and by the way, what exactly '?' qualifies one to critique anything? I've seen more films than most of these people, I'd guess), have said this film lacked the BIG moments. IT DID NOT. The moments are there, you just have to know people - humanity.
It did lack being smacked over the head repeatedly with the obvious...so I guess those bred on a diet of Hollywood(our viewers are so stupid we must hand-hold all the way through and belabour the most self evident details)MOVIES, aren't going to be thrilled or interested. I was. I also like Alien and Predator movies, so it's not being said with any sort of bias. If you liked Enchanted April, and The Whales of August, The Grass Harp, and Miss Pettigrew Lives For a Day, you'll like this a lot.
Yesterday afternoon was pure joy because Diane and I watched Hoffman's directorial début of a delightful movie that showcases some of the best in British acting. Superficially the subject matter would seem to be less than enthralling: an old folk's home putting on an end of year concert to raise money to keep the home working. Ha, the devil is in the details and these details set the entire story on a different plane of reality; this home is exclusively for retired concert musicians both orchestral and operatic. The level of professional attainment means that the audience for this "end of year finale" can attract people that will pay Covent Garden prices to attend such a stellar concert. The movie's casting is remarkable because the person that carries the show is Billy Connelly who enlivens the interaction with staff and residents to a degree that only his repartee can produce. Suffice it to say that his banter means that, for an old guy like me, there is never a dull spot in the movie. The drama is interjected by Maggie Smith who does it with the aplomb for which she is known. I also think that Dustin Hoffman did a remarkable job in this, his first, outing as a director. Diane and I both believe that this is a hugely enjoyable movie and should be seen by any person interested in the art of film making.
My daughters and I ventured into post-festive cinema experience, and waded though queues of elderly people, obviously taking advantage of the chance to see a film that they could relate to, the queen being the only octogenarian known to leap from helicopters in this day and age. What we found was that, despite the endless trailers and publicity, there lurked a decent film, with skilled and talented cast and beautiful music, in a splendid setting, telling a nice story. Because that's what it is: a nice story. The various characters don't matter - they were all executed with stunning reliability - and musical numbers from Flanagan and Allen (no, Andrew Sachs was NOT either of those)via the Mikado (three very unlikely little maids)to the quartet from Rigoletto. The dialogue was witty and the moments thought-provoking. Even the wealthy and famous have to age and die, but to be able to end ones days in such surroundings must make it all worthwhile. Kudos to Dustin Hoffman (but how hard could it have been?) and to all who worked on what is ultimately a work of art.
After years of acting and two Oscars under his belt, Dustin Hoffman
finally takes a turn behind the camera in his directorial debut for
Based on Ronald Harwood's play of the same name, the film takes place at Beecham House, a home where retired opera singers Cissy (Pauline Collins), Reginald (Tom Courtenay) and Wilf (Billy Connolly) live. Formally part of a quartet, every year the three take part in a concert to celebrate composer Giuseppe Verdi's birthday. But when Jean (Maggie Smith), the fourth member of their group arrives at the seniors' home, things get complicated. As she is the ex-wife of fellow member Reginald, old rivalries, theatrical temperaments and drama evidently ensues and it becomes unclear whether or not the show will go on.
While the film never gets any more drastic than this, it is delightfully charming to see veteran actors Smith, Courtenay, Connolly and Collins strut their stuff. With Smith perfectly playing the slightly narcissistic queen bee of the group, even Michael Gambon makes an appearance as the eccentric lead coordinator of the concert. But as we see Courtenay's Reggie harbour old feelings for his ex-wife and Collins play the lovable confidante Cissy, it's Connolly who steals the show as the hilariously lustful Wilf.
Although there isn't much material to let the actors stretch their acting capabilities, Quartet is a pleasure to watch. Although it pokes fun at old age and shows the fears of becoming a has-been, it's the performances by the film's legendary actors that make Hoffman's endearing tale what it is.
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