DVD Review by Kam Williams
Delightful Opera-Oriented Romantic Dramedy Directed by Dustin Hoffman
Sometimes a gem of a movie slips through the cracks that really has no business getting lost. Such is the case with Quartet, a delightful dramedy directed by Dustin Hoffman and starring Maggie Smith.
Since the film was released in late December by the esteemed Weinstein Company, one would naturally expect it to generate a lot of Academy Award buzz. But it was overlooked entirely, which means most moviegoers passed on the picture in favor of Oscar contenders. Now’s a good time to catch it on DVD.
The story is set at Beecham House, a sprawling estate in England which serves as a retirement home for accomplished classical musicians. At the point of departure, we are introduced to three of its residents Wilfred (Billy Connolly), Cecily (Pauline Collins) and Reginald (Tom Courtenay), opera singers who once shared the limelight as members of a famed quartet.
Melancholy Reggie is rather reserved in contrast to the comic relief coming courtesy of slightly senile Cissy and ladies man Wilf, a frisky codger quick to flirt with anything in a skirt. Otherwise, Beecham House is busy preparing to put on an annual concert, staged each year on Verdi’s birthday.
The plot thickens when Jean Horton (Smith), a very demanding, former diva, moves in unannounced. For not only was she responsible for the breakup of the aforementioned quartet, but the adulteress was also to blame for the failure of her brief marriage to Reggie.
Jean is so narcissistic that she’s initially oblivious to the effect that her arrival is having on her ex, who ostensibly never fully recovered from their divorce. Instead, she spends her time complaining about having to adjust to the relatively modest circumstances.
Will the two reconcile, let alone be able to even share the same space? And can the quartet be reunited to perform as headliners at the recital, a fundraiser suddenly critical to Beecham’s remaining afloat? These are the pivotal concerns that will keep you entertained and engaged every step of the way to the glorious resolution.
A charming, romantic romp revolving around a couple of unexpected encores.
Excellent (4 stars)
Rated PG-13 for suggestive humor and brief profanity
Running time: 98 minutes
Distributor: Starz / Anchor Bay
DVD Extras: Feature commentary with director Dustin Hoffman; and behind-the-scenes featurettes.
To see a trailer for Quartet, visit: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wSEnh8Hi62E