Running Time: 98 minutes
US Certificate: PG-13 UK Certificate: 12A
Country: United Kingdom
Dustin Hoffman’s belated directorial debut centres around Cissy (Collins), Reggie (Courtenay) and Wilf (Connolly), three elderly former Opera singers living in a home for elderly former opera singers. Each year they get together to celebrate Verdi’s birthday and stage a concert. The quartet is made up by Jean (Smith) – Reggie’s ex-wife and a precious diva who arrives on the scene to disrupt the status quo and flare up old rivalries.
Taking on a British stage play about a group of quintessentially British OAPs is a strange one for Mr Rain Man to start with but overall Quartet is a resounding success that starts with an objective to entertain in a rather linear fashion and sees it through. Quartet remains solidly within its comfort zone throughout and never actually pushes any boundaries but not every film has to do this. The audience that this will primarily appeal to – over 50s – will love the feelgood factor, simplicity and innocent charm of Dustin Hoffman’s character-driven effort.
The performances of the main stars are what the entertainment value is built around and with lesser names and without such accomplished and nuanced performances, Hoffman’s vehicle might not be the package it is. Connolly uses his trademark comedic patter to create a wealth of humorous one-liners and interactions with his friends and the staff at the home, Smith delivers lines with her usual aplomb and ex-Eastender Pauline Collins somehow comes across very strongly. The relationships, linkage and obvious chemistry between all the main characters help with the execution. Put together with the musical interludes and dramatic moments, Quartet is a feelgood success.
It's Got: Humour, simplicity, well mixed in musical moments, great characterisation and acting
It Needs: Maybe for you to be of a certain age to fully appreciate it
The performances of Billy Connolly, Maggie Smith and company make this simple but entertaining Dustin Hoffman-driven comedy drama a success.