28 December 2013

Quartet (starring Maggie Smith, Billy Connolly, Tom Courtenay and Pauline Collins)

Amazon probably recommended this to me because I have enjoyed so many films with Maggie Smith in them. Or, perhaps, because I liked 'The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel'. Not that the two films have anything at all in common, other than featuring mainly older, retired people.

I found 'Quartet' mesmerising. I wasn't entirely sure what was happening in the first few minutes, but it didn't matter. The whole thing takes place in a retirement home for musicians, so inevitably there's a lot of music, mostly classical - and, indeed, several of the cast members are in fact retired musicians rather than actors. The story itself is quite slow-moving; Maggie Smith does not even appear until about half an hour into the film, but she's brilliant as ever, playing a former diva who causes huge upheaval in the life of another resident, to whom she was (briefly) married many years earlier.

There's some humour, some sadness, and a little romance, interwoven and beautifully done. Dustin Hoffman, apparently, was the director. There are a few instances of bad language although in context they are not unreasonable or excessive. There's innuendo too, mostly from Wilf (Billy Connolly) and bittersweet incidents involving Sissy (Pauline Collins) whose memory is becoming decidedly faulty. The rating is 12 in the UK, PG-13 in the US, and that seems very reasonable. I doubt if this film would be of any interest to a child, or indeed a young teenager.

To be honest, it would not appeal to everyone, whatever their age. There really is a LOT of music, including opera, and the main plot line revolves around plans for a fund-raising concert. There's no fast action, no real excitement, and only cameo roles for young people. However I like the trend for films featuring over-50s, and enjoyed the music; overall I thought it excellent.

Extras include the typical director's commentary, behind the scenes features, interviews, outtakes and so on. The only available subtitles are English for the hard of hearing. In DVD and Blu-ray format.

Review copyright Sue's DVD Reviews

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