Cocoon has been remade, but the aliens have been replaced with opera music. Quartet is a movie about a retirement home for aging musicians, where four old fogies of varying physical and mental capabilities reunite for one final performance. Funny if ultimately insignificant, Quartet is a worthy directorial debut for Dustin Hoffman.
The movie stars Maggie Smith, Tom Courtenay, Billy Connolly and Pauline Collins, with Albus Dumbledore himself Michael Gambon in a supporting role. Smith plays Jean Horton, a highly respected former opera star who is the latest to movie to the-place-where-musicians-go-to-die. Though she is reluctant to join those around her, she finally warms to what is essentially a Hogwarts for old people, where at every turn violins are being played, people are singing and Dumbledore is shouting at everyone to shut up.
Quartet has doses of seriousness throughout, but at its core it is an energetic, zany comedy where the young people are the most mature and the old ones like little children bouncing off the walls. It's actually quite ingenious, and a solid follow-up to last year's The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, though the only similarities are that it is about the elderly and they both star Maggie Smith.
The set up is pretty entertaining and even downright hilarious at times. Does a place like this actually exist? If so, I'm moving there when I'm old an unable to live on my own. Never mind that I am criminally unmusical.
As funny as it is, Quartete doesn't leave a lasting impression. The relationship between Smith and Courtenay is compelling, but it doesn't resonate emotionally in the way Hoffman intended. The story is more whimsical than anything else; at its core, it is good, old fashioned fun. Still, with good performances, especially by Billy Connolly, and a witty screenplay, Quartet delivers where it counts.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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