Dustin Hoffman makes his début directorship in Quartet and with the quite frankly, astonishing cast, it’s easy to see why it was nominated for a Golden Globe. It also earned Dustin Hoffman a Hollywood Breakthrough Award in Directing at the Hollywood Film Festival along with an Audience Choice Award at the Chicago Film Festival.
Many viewers will probably find the storyline a bit dull; a 4-piece opera singing group who all end up in a care home for retired musicians who come into some difficulties regarding their annual celebration of Verdi’s birthday. Well, my answer to you is that you need to look at it deeper. I’m not pretending this is a highly arduous storyline, but it is a story of relationships, aging and ultimately friendship.
The cast is truly spectacular, the varying behaviours of the characters and the way the actors bounce off each other makes you really understand their emotions. You really feel the love that Reggie (Tom Courtenay) had and indeed still has for Jean (Maggie Smith) and understand the anger he has for her after the breakdown of their short lived marriage. But to lighten the mood we get given Wilf (Billy Connolly) with his outrageous, crude and impolite behaviour and Cissy (Pauline Collins) who suffers from Alzheimer’s – but it is shown as both serious and comedic. Sheridan Smith who plays the resident Dr Lucy Cogan is on fine form with her appropriate humour and her serious behaviour. And finally, not forgetting the majestic Michael Gambon who plays Cedric (specifically pronouced CEEE-dric), a bitter old man who used to be a stage director back in the day. I think one of my favourite things about this movie is the fact that some old musicians actually got to be extras, it just shows how capable the elderly are even though we, as a society seem to dismiss their abilities once they reach a certain age.
I am really hoping this film does terrifically well because it is the first film since The King’s Speech that has received any proper recognition in major cinemas as a British film. It was produced by the British companies: BBC Films, Headline Pictures and Finola Dwyer Productions alongside German company DCM Productions. The fact that this has virtually no America influence (only Dustin Hoffman as a Director) is such a breath of fresh air and I hope people will go and support the British film industry at it’s best.
Overall Rating: ★★★