Quartet (1981)





Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

Quartet Photos

Movie Info

No relation to the 1949 Somerset Maugham "omnibus" film of the same name, 1981's Quartet is based on the roman a clef by Jean Rhys. Though the names are changed, it is clearly the story of Rhys' romance with Ford Maddox Ford in 1920s Paris. The titular quartet consists of novelist Isabelle Adjani, her Polish husband Anthony Higgins, wealthy philanderer Alan Bates and Bates' artist wife Maggie Smith. Though she's been indulgent of Higgins's past indiscretions, Smith isn't keen on her husband carrying on an affair with Adjani under their own roof. Meanwhile, Higgins sits in prison, jailed for his various petty thefts. Once Higgins is released, he learns about the Bates-Adjani-Smith contretemps. When the dust settles, it is Adjani who suffers the most.
Art House & International , Drama , Romance
Directed By:
Written By:
In Theaters:
Criterion Collection


Alan Bates
as H.J. Heidler
Maggie Smith
as Lois Heidler
Isabelle Adjani
as Marya Zelli
Anthony Higgins
as Stephan Zelli
Armelia McQueen
as Nell, Singer
Daniel Mesguich
as Pierre Schlamovitz
Wiley Wood
as Cairn
Bernice Stegers
as Miss Nicholson
Suzanne Flon
as Mme. Hautchamp, Concierge
Virginie Thévenet
as Mlle. Chardin
Romain Bremond
as Adolescent
Francois Viaur
as Lefranc
Annie Noel
as Maid
Humbert Balsan
as Impresario's Friend
Sebastien Floche
as Hatuchamp
Pierre Julien
as Impresario
Serge Marquand
as Night Club Owner
Monique Mauclair
as Concierge
Michel Such
as Guard
Josine Comellas
as Cafe Patronne
Show More Cast

Critic Reviews for Quartet

All Critics (3)

No excerpt available.

Full Review… | March 25, 2009
Top Critic

No excerpt available.

Full Review… | February 8, 2006
Time Out
Top Critic

No excerpt available.

Full Review… | August 30, 2004
New York Times
Top Critic

No excerpt available.

Full Review… | December 31, 1999
Chicago Reader
Top Critic

It's nasty-hearted in a way we don't tend to think of Merchant Ivory films as being, but that's one of its strengths.

Full Review… | July 9, 2015
Antagony & Ecstasy

No excerpt available.

July 17, 2005

Audience Reviews for Quartet


Ivory's interest is focused so completely on the period clothes and decor that the drama never surfaces.

Lee Mayo
Lee Mayo

Unless Hopkins and Thompson are involved, I have never liked an Ivory film. They all take decent stories and bore the audience to death with their utter lack of panache.

Jeff B
Jeff B

Somewhat leaden in pacing, this beautiful early Merchant-Ivory adaptation of a Jean Rhys story about the demimonde doings of a predatory British couple and a young beauty offers wonderful period scenes and high-quality acting, as befits the excellent cast. The driver of the plot is the obsessive love between Adjani and Bates, and herein lies the biggest problem: I didn't quite believe it.

Nick Demartino
Nick Demartino

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