The Quartet

The Quartet***
The Quartet-nf The setting is a home for retired musicians in Great Britain which apparently does exist in some form there. Many of the retirees are well known opera singers as well as other types of musicians. Three of the main protagonists played by Billy Connolly, Tom Courtenay, and Pauline Collins are joined by the fourth (Maggie Smith) who makes a grand entrance befitting the diva that she must have been. It turns out that many years ago she had been married to one of the men (Courtenay’s character),for nine hours, but he has never gotten over their romance and being jilted. He thus is quite unhappy about her arrival. Life in the home seems meaningful to the residents who interact with each other, reminisce about times gone by and sometimes play their instruments and also do some singing. Director Dustin Hoffman in an extra clip on Netflix declares that this is a film about life and (older people) enjoying it and living to their fullest. There was no dialog in the film which indicated that any of these residents had meaningful relationships with their families (although some small children were seen visiting and even being given music lessons). It may be that many very successful professional musicians have traveled a great deal and never have time to develop such connections and that such a retirement home serves this very special purpose. It is also of note that aside from the 4 main stars many of the other musicians seen doing small bits of performing from opera to comedy were actual retired professional musicians. This was demonstrated also in the closing credits where they were identified with a picture of them in his or her prime. It becomes clear early on in the film that the issue, which must be resolved, is whether the four main characters will perform the Quartet from Rigaletto in a benefit show to keep the home open. It will not spoil this movie experience to learn in the end they do it and we hear what have to be recordings of the rich voices of the real opera stars in their prime. Dustin Hoffman’s goal is achieved as we have a feel good experience about the ability to find meaning and satisfaction late in life. (2012)

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