Wednesday, 19 December 2012


Paramount Pictures/Transmission Films
Opens Boxing Day

Adapted by Ronald Harwood from his own stage play, Quartet marks the competent though inauspicious directorial debut of veteran actor, Dustin Hoffman. Hoffman couldn't have found an easier choice of material, or better troupe of actors, with which to make his debut (not to be dismissive or insensitive to the director's plight, but I'd be surprised if filming required little more from Hoffman than to point the camera and say 'action' and 'cut').

Set in an English retirement home for musicians and musical performers, we're introduced to a trio of residents -- reserved Reginald (Tom Courtenay), randy Wilf (Billy Connolly), and daffy Cissy (Pauline Collins) -- and long time friends as the annual benefit concert celebrating the birth of composer Verdi approaches.

But into their tranquil twilight comes Jean (Maggie Smith), a former opera diva who also happened to be married to Reginald many moons ago (and all for a mere nine hours), with past tensions and resentments planning to derail plans for a reunion performance by the four at the benefit.

Guaranteed to appeal to the same audience which made The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel a surprise box office hit earlier this year, Quartet is a non-taxing comedy buoyed by the performances of seasoned pros who aren't required to shift out of first gear but are charming nonetheless. That includes Michael (Dumbledore) Gambon as the self important organiser of the benefit who steals every brief moment he has.

One to treat your mother and grandmother to these holidays.

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