Quartet - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Quartet Reviews

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Super Reviewer
June 13, 2014
Dustin Hoffman executive produced and then directed this ode to those who chose the stage, to entertain, and who live to see the spotlight pass them by. Buckshot with many who actually made that choice, who lived that life, it then proceeds to display very nearly a sitcom view of the last act of life, or at the very least the Disney version. Everyone is dressed up, very clean, in this mansion out in the country, a home for retired musicians, appointed with fine lawns, and have rooms that should be called suites. Whatta way to go!
The story concerns the difficulties a once popular foursome have in getting together to do one more show ("to save the orphanage ... for the penguin ... we're on a mission from God" The Blues Brothers then, though w/o the major players doing even one song!).
The players perform their required duties but are ill served finally by the platform given them.
Only Pauline Collins gets any real work done here. No, honestly.
Bathsheba Monk
Super Reviewer
February 15, 2013
I loved this movie despite the fact that I knew where it was going almost immediately. But, hey, a home full of retired musicians who still manage to make not-so-warbly music? I understand there is such a home in Milan, Verdi House, which Verdi actually built to shelter singers older than 65 who are in dire straits. Anyway, it's a beautiful if disturbing look at getting old--beautiful because of the setting and soundtrack, disturbing because it's a lot more than a loss of physical gifts that makes aging such a b*h.
Super Reviewer
January 15, 2013
Great cast, Fantastic acting but not a fantastic movie. It's disappointing i wanted more comedy and i wanted to know more about each character.
If it wasnt for Billy Connolly bringing the comedy then i probably would have liked this movie even less.
Bill D 2007
Super Reviewer
March 27, 2013
A trifling mediocrity. "Quartet," Dustin Hoffman's directorial debut, has all the depth and complexity of a Hallmark greeting card. Sickeningly sentimental but charming at times. It's completely baffling why Hoffman would lower himself to the level of ordinary schmaltz.
Super Reviewer
March 15, 2013
When a prima donna past her due date arrives at a home for retired musicians, three of her old colleagues try to put the past behind them and recruit her to reform the old quartet for a benefit performance. It's manna for the lace doily set, and likable performers make it pleasant enough, if lightly dusty, for the rest of us. It's hard to hate these sweet old folks, but I commend your hard-heartedness if you can manage it.
Markus Emilio Robinson
Super Reviewer
January 30, 2013
This is the live action, very British, retirement home version of "The Muppets", with a "we have to get the band back together in order to save the community center" premise. Directed by Rain Man himself, Dustin Hoffman, in his curiously bland first attempt at a feature film, "Quartet" isn't an insightful tale about getting old or as witty of a British comedy as it wants to be, or thinks that it is.

The Plot: So while it's not about saving a community center per se, the plot of "Quartet" centers around a retirement home (mansion really) filled with a slew of curmudgeon opera singers, that is about to be shut down. Now all the old timers must leave their differences in the past to come together for one last performance in order to raise enough money to save the old folks home. If that sounds routine and predictable, that is only because it is. But that's not the biggest problem with this film.

The ensemble cast here is pretty notable, with the likes of Maggie Smith, Tom Courtenay, Billy Connolly and Pauline Collins. But that doesn't mean that they are any good here. Yes, most of the acting is all standard, with each actor taking on a very generic role (the dirty old man, the straight man, the uptight blue-hair and the ditsy comic relief) but as far as performances go, the only standout of the lot comes from Smith, who pretty much takes a defibrillator to "Quartet" with her overly distinguished, overly disgusted comic sense of humor. But still, the acting isn't the biggest problem with this film.

While I haven't yet seen "The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel" (on purpose) I have heard the accusations of how similar these two films are...aside from both containing Maggie Smith performances. In saying that, the only reason I went to see this movie was because of its director; obviously. So, when just talking about the direction of this movie, I have to say that there are moments that are tonal misfires (mostly orchestral pieces, which will come across as simply old people playing instruments and singing, rather than emotional sequences meant to resonate with audiences) and it doesn't help that the only real laugh out loud moment in this buddy comedy of sorts, seems to be unintentional. But that is not to say that most of "Quartet" isn't directed well enough. It is just too bad that the content chosen by Hoffman is essentially what will make this film almost instantaneously forgettable.

This leads me to the biggest problem with this film. Now, I won't even address the cop-out ending, which I didn't have as much of a problem with (considering the lead actors probably can't actually sing) as others did, when the biggest problem with this film is that as routine as it is, there is no bad guy. The plot goes that their retirement home is going to be shut down, yet there is no evil bank president rubbing his hands together menacingly. This is to say that there is hardly any conflict in "Quartet". All I'm saying is that if you are going to give audiences a story that they've already seen before, why remove the most compelling aspect of this genre type? The person the audience roots against.

Final Thought: Sure, "Quartet" may be a minor hit with the AARP crowd, but overall this film, while harmless, will be as dull and dry as one would think from watching the trailers. Simply stated, if this and "Hope Springs" are what passes as entertaining vehicles for award winning aging actors and actresses, then it may be true that there really aren't any good roles for actors over 60.

Written by Markus Robinson, Edited by Nicole I. Ashland

Follow me on Twitter @moviesmarkus
Super Reviewer
October 22, 2012
Yes, it's sweet. Yes the performances are wonderful. And yes, I feel like I've seen this before...
Super Reviewer
May 21, 2015
In "Quartet," things are looking tough at a retirement home for opera singers and other assorted divas in England with all the hopes riding on a fundraising concert presided over by Cedric(Michael Gambon). That hope rises with the arrival of Jean(Maggie Smith), a living legend. But Reg(Tom Courtenay) has mixed feelings, no surprise considering they were once married. Meanwhile, Wilf(Billy Connolly) looks for a bush to take a leak behind.

Even as predictable and cliched as it is, "Quartet" is still not a total loss, as it is also more than a little touching. That starts with Dustin Hoffman in his directorial debut, showing a bit of visual flair. And then there is the cast, including several ringers from the world of opera. Yes, one can make a case that Maggie Smith can do what she does in her sleep(and probably does), but that does not make it any less amazing, especially paired with the equally capable Tom Courtenay.
Super Reviewer
September 25, 2012
Like The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, this all-star cast of older working actors playing retirees provides a charming study of life following middle age. As the closing credits disclose, most of the cast members are veterans of the theater or concert halls. Sheridan Smith plays the lovely doctor of the retirement home. There are some naughty jokes mainly from Connolly's character. The quartet of "opera stars" consisting of Smith, Courtenay, Connelly, and Collins never actually singing together felt like an anti-climax though.
Super Reviewer
February 7, 2013
A marvelous cast headlines this film, but it is the supporting cast that makes this the gem that it is! Beecham House is a retirement home for professional musicians and Reggie (Tom Courtnay) is nursing old wounds, while Wilfred (Billy Connolly) is an incorrigible womanizing rascal, and Cecily (Pauline Collins) is slowly becoming more and more forgetful. But the three of them, who once sang The Rigoletto together with the fourth main character, Jean (Maggie Smith) who moves into the Home and shakes things up, are a delight to watch together. It was wonderful to watch these characters deal with the ravages of old age without giving it any quarter, but, as I said at the top, the hidden gold was the marvelous retired professional musicians who made up most of the remaining cast of residents. These were real musicians who often were seen actually playing and singing the various bits of music seen throughout the film. A terrific story of loss and missed opportunities and of eventual forgiveness and healing. And, ah, the divine music!
Super Reviewer
January 2, 2013
Three members of a once renowned operatic vocal quartet (Connolly, Courtenay and Collins) now reside in a retirement home for musicians. When the fourth member (Smith) joins them, the others try to convince her to take part in the institution's annual music gala but she is very much opposed to the idea. There's also the small matter of Smith and Courtenay having once been married to one another, albeit for one mere day.
Hoffman does an adequate job on his belated directorial debut but his screenwriter, Ronald Harwood, lets him down. In adapting his stage play, Harwood fails to give the material a satisfying screen revision. There are too many loose strands which lead to unsatisfying resolutions, most notably the culture snob played by Gambon. Harwood sets him up as a villain, someone who thinks opera should be elitist. Courtenay believes the opposite, insisting that opera should be available to people of all backgrounds. "Rich people took the soul out of opera" he tells a room of students. We're primed for a showdown between the two but it never materializes, Gambon disappearing from the film in the third act.

Despite the shoddy storytelling, the movie is engaging, thanks to it's four leads. Smith and Courtenay are outstanding as one-time lovers, too proud now to inform each other of their true feelings. It's in the film's dialogue free moments that Smith really shows what a great screen actress she is, conveying more with her eyes than any screenwriter could ever hope to. Connolly has always irked me in his acting roles as it usually just feels like you're watching Connolly rather than the character he's supposed to be playing. Here though he's fantastic, almost unrecognizable with a short back and sides.
'Quartet' is enjoyable enough though all too often it opts for cheap laughs of the "old people swearing" variety and the leads, despite being terrific, never really convince you of the need for them to belong in a retirement home.
Super Reviewer
½ August 7, 2013
This British comedy-drama film based on the play of the same title by Ronald Harwood, which ran in London's West End from September 1999 until January 2000, and it was filmed late in 2011 at Hedsor House, Buckinghamshire. This is actor Dustin Hoffman's directorial debut. And it wasn't bad at all! The story of Ronald Harwood who wrote the screenplay as well, takes place in Beecham House, a retirement home for gifted musicians, patterned after the real-life Casa di Riposo per Musicisti founded by Giuseppe Verdi. And my favourite very colourful characters were Reg, Wilf and Cissy who are all retired former opera singers who often worked together in the past... All the residents of the retirement home continue to be engaged in their former profession in one way or the other, which gives place to lots of amusing times in the home, but also some rivalries amongst the musicians.

The movie was well received by the film critics but I will have to say that is made for targeted audience - I don't know too many young people interested in this subject! For me it was lulling inspirational fantasy/comedy with aging, cultured Englishfolk (and one randy Scot, played by Billy Connolly) living out their golden years in a beautifully maintained residence. Good acting, entertaining story and solid directing are the characteristics of this art work. Don't expect too much, though!
Super Reviewer
June 19, 2013
A completely pleasing way to spend an hour and forty minutes. Nothing spectacular in way of story or technique, but a collection of fine performances delivered by a first-time director who knows his way around character development.
Super Reviewer
½ January 22, 2013
Hollywood throws a bone to the "older crowd" a few times a year which is a shame since these films are usually extraordinary with "Quartet" no exception. Dustin Hoffman has assembled a wonderful cast and has entrusted them to tell a very good story about a retirement place for musicians and the like. Billy Connolly steals the show as the frisky senior while Tom Courtenay and Maggie Smith (playing a 2013 version of the Dowager Countess)rediscover love. Brava! (1-22-13)
Super Reviewer
January 10, 2013
A genuine surprise. Made with great skill and care with superb performances and a delicate touch.
Super Reviewer
January 31, 2013
Stunning ensemble, tender and ingenious direction, an ode to the love for theatre, acting, artistic eccentricity and the human spirit and its maladjusted endeavours that retain their tenacity until the day we the dust (albeit with a bang!). Kudos.
Super Reviewer
½ May 14, 2013
A great cast certainly help Hoffman with his directorial debut but although it is a nice little film you can't help feeling that you've been here before with both British films and some of this cast (I'm looking at you, Maggie Smith!). It's nice seeing Courtney back on the big screen in a substantial role and Connolly brings some humour but also nice dramatic depth to his role. The real treat is seeing all the real musicians and singers of yesteryear amongst the smaller roles and they all look like they're thoroughly enjoying themselves. I guess the film is a celebration of their talents (make sure you watch the credits to get a full idea of how much these people have done) and to that extent it works well enough.
December 20, 2012
Predictable, completely unrealistic drama of a musicans retirement home. All the leads are their usual wonderful selves, but the story is silly, the dialogue trite, and I couldn't escape what felt like a movie made by people who essentially know nothing about the world of classical music. Every preconception of the Hollywood crowd is here in abundance. You never leave the entertainment-world bubble for a moment. Smith, Courtenay, Collins, & Gambon deserve much better vehicles.
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