By: Henry J. Fromage (Four Beers) –
So, in the space of ten days recently I twice flew the 30 hour Lima, Peru to Busan, South Korea gauntlet, American Airlines all the way. Thanks to my laptop battery’s gnat-like lifespan, I was at the mercy of whatever AA had to watch. Hence, Quartet.
The namesake of the film is a formerly renowned opera quartet who now reside in a special retirement home for the music stars of yesteryear. When the final member of the group (Maggie Smith) consisting of Billy Connolly, Tom Courtenay, and Pauline Collins shows up, her diva ways and troubled history with Courtenay upset their lives, and their upcoming gala performance, put together in a bid to save their funds-hungry home.
Unfortunately, no, this is not Breakin 3, Cholesterol-Free (Metamucil Spree? Help me out in the comments)
It seems like every acclaimed actor of his generation tried his hand behind the camera at least once, but Dustin Hoffman has held off until now. To his credit, it’s impossible to tell that this is a debut, and there are a few nice directorial touches that buff it to at least a John Madden-level polish.
There’s not a lot of meat to this bone, but I did find some interest in its treatise on what opera used to be, and the game cast handle the dramatics well. The real standout is Connolly, whose Scottish accent and expressive face are absolutely perfect for delivering dirty old man one-liners. I also loved the shit Dame Maggie Smith takes for being quite “social” in her youth, if you catch my drift.
This film was clearly made by old people, for old people. Of course it addresses this new-fangled fad, rap music, and its concept of what a webpage looks like is firmly stuck in 1998, roughly the last time any of them but Connolly was feeling frisky enough to use the internet for its intended use.
Demonstrated by this highly educational video
Not a whole lot of effort was expended on this plot. This is nothing but a dry powder of familiar elements. Just add retired opera singer conceit, stir and let sit for 90 minutes!
The one plot element with any teeth to it, Maggie Smith’s former whoring ways and how they affected Courtenay in particular and the quartet as a whole, gets its remaining nubs pulled fairly quickly. Maybe it’s easier to forgive and forget when you’re older, but it sure saps the drama from a film.
An amusing, well-acted, but unexceptional way to wile away an afternoon… or a plane ride.
Take a Drink: whenever you see the mute oboe player (pretty sure that’s an oboe)
Take a Drink: anytime past indiscretions are mentioned or hinted at
Take a Drink: for every awkward rap reference, or especially, awkward rap song
Take a Drink: whenever Billy Connolly cracks a sex joke
Take a Drink: every time Dumbledore yells
He really likes that hat
Do a Shot: whenever you see Triangle-Hair