Genre: Comedy, Drama
Director: Dustin Hoffman
Writer: Ronald Harwood, based on his own play
Music: Dario Marianelli
Cinematography: John de Borman
Editor: Barney Pilling
A cinema-going of this feel-good crowder-pleaser from Dustin Hoffman’s director debut. Why dabbled into the director chair in one’s 70s? Mr. Hoffman had all the means and privileges to kickstart a career like his peer Clint Eastwood, instead, his behind-the-wheel debutant is a belated enigma, maybe it is out of his fondness of opera or classical music, or gallantly to tell the world it is never too late to do something new?
QUARTET is another senior age oriented UK comedy, like THE BEST EXOTIC MARIGOLD HOTEL (2011), but this time it is not in India, the background is set in a rural sanatorium for retired musicians, who are preparing their annual concert to raise money to keep the house running. The storyline is utterly conventional, as one can expected, the film taps a light-hearted angle to attempt the mirth of the rosy and bright side of getting old, Maggie Smith and Tom Courtenay leads as a romantic ex-couple, initially they are holding a grudge at each other, then bury the hatchet and overcome the scruples of performing in public after a long absence, and finally rekindle their relationship (although the progress is tersely depicted, I have no scintilla of idea about how Tom Courtenay reconciles his deep-rooted rancor and Maggie Smith gets over the stage fright of sealing her voice for decades).
Another half of the quartet, Billy Connolly and Pauline Collins, their laughter-inducing manipulation tallies adeptly with their personal images, I might lost in Connolly’s Scottish accent, it is Pauline’s dementia-ridden wackiness successfully steals the limelight. Michael Gambon, as the boisterous concert organizer, has a certain Dumbledore comeback panache in some of his best scenes.
Boy, I do wish Maggie Smith can live longer and shoot more films, one can never be bored with her acerbic wisecrack and haughty “Dowager Countess” stance, it is the zeitgeist for women who can gracefully defy age and stay aplomb.
This is not an ambitious film, Mr. Hoffman may only intend to entertain the senior-skewing classical music connoisseurs with a congenial treat without touching the dark side, a sheer escapist’ revelry.