Maggie Smith as Jean Horton
Tom Courtenay as Reginald “Reg” Paget
Pauline Collins as Cecily “Cissy” Robson
Billy Connolly as Wilfred “Wilf” Bond
Michael Gambon as Cedric Livingstone
In theaters January 25
For residents of the Beecham House, a retirement home for gifted musicians , life is still very lively. In spite of age, these artists still practice their art. Some of England’s finest musicians and singers live here, still practising their art to the fullest. The residents are gearing up for their yearly gala concert to honor the birthday of Opera composer Giuseppe Verdi. Three residents Reginald, Cissy, and Wilfred were, in their day, accomplished opera singers on the London and world stages who have worked together. They go about their day- to- day routines while trying to figure out what to perform for the Gala. Then the house gets wind of a new arrival: Jean, who was a major diva in her day, is coming to Beecham House to stay. Cissy and Wilfred are very excited, but Reginald is shaken. He and Jean were once married and it did not end well. Jean is apprehensive about this major change in her life and is unsettled as she tries to fit in. She also tries to come to terms with how her and Reginald’s relationship ended.
Based on Sir Ronald Harwood’s critically West End comedic play, Quartet marks Dustin Hoffman’s Directorial debut. This film is about getting older and how the talented and artistic cope with aging, life, and love. Reginald – reserved, bookish who gives lectures to high school students on opera; Wilfred who spends his time flirting with every female in his vicinity; the bubbly vivacious Cissy who is beginning to show the signs of alzheimer’s is forgetful, but happy. Jean is totally at sea. Residents of Beecham House are there because they can no longer afford to live on their own. She is coming to terms with that and her past career. Because of the tremendous pressure of success and growing stage fright, Jean has stopped singing. She is wrestling with those demons as well as finding out that Reginald is also a resident. Reginald was very hurt by the way their marriage broke up and is not looking to dredge up the past, but Jean hesitantly looks to clear the air.
Preparations are being made for the Gala concert. This concert which is given every year as a fundraiser for Beecham House. The proceeds from this concert are what keeps Beecham House operating, so it is extremely important. They need a big draw to raise good money. Wil, Cissy, and reluctantly Reggie, get the idea to recreate one of their past performances: The third act quartet from Rigoletto. Jean was the fourth in the quartet, but she has refused to sing for years. The trio’s problem- they have to convince Jean to participate.
This is a lovely film that shows the tender side of aging, but mind you if you are not an aficionado of classical music or opera, it might be a little bit of a bother to you, but the performances here should not be missed. Even at their age , all of the residents are still vital and living for their craft. The absolute genius here is that all of the “residents” you see in the film were all at one time, in actual life, career opera singers and musicians on the English stage in national companies and orchestras. At the end of the film their names and before/after pictures and career credits are given. The cast is perfection. Maggie Smith (Jean) has been a favorite of mine since she played another woman named Jean in The Prime Of Miss Jean Brodie. for you Potterheads Maggie Smith is known for her role of professor Mcgonagall as well as Violet Crawley, the Dowager Countess of Grantham in Downton Abbey. Oh also for Potterheads you will also see Michael Gambon (Dumbledore) as Cedric Livingstone, a resident and Gala committee organizer. Quartet is a wonderful lively bittersweet comedy that will leave you with a warm, thoughtful, hopeful feeling. This should be seen.