Quartet sings with humour
set in a retirement home and stars Dame Maggie Smith but the comparisons between The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel and Quartet end there. Dustin Hoffman’s directorial debut, Quartet features Dame Maggie as ageing opera singer Jean, the newest resident of Beecham House for retired musicians. Pauline Collins, Billy Connolly and Tom Courtenay play Jean’s former opera colleagues. Jean’s presence causes waves, with her ex-husband Reggie (Courtenay) refusing to acknowledge her presence. Jean is persuaded to mingle with the other residents by the dotty Cissy (Collins) with encouragement from Wilf (Connolly). The central theme of the film reveals itself when the star turn pulls out of an annual gala, held on Verdi’s birthday, that raises money to keep Beecham House open. Who better to step in than the newly reunited quartet whose version of Verdi’s Rigoletto has recently been re-released? Jean is horrified by the prospect as she’s sworn never to sing again, Reggie won’t take part because he’s never forgiven Jean for cheating on him, Cissy may lose the plot any minute and Wilf doesn’t take things seriously enough. While the dry humour and the camaraderie will delight audiences, Quartet’s real joy comes from the music. The film was inspired by the documentary Tosca’s Kiss, about a real retirement home set up by Verdi in Milan. Apart from the four stars and their musical director Cedric (Michael Gambon) most of the residents are retired musicians and singers. The music will ring on in your head long after Quartet finishes.
opens on Boxing Day, with previews this weekend.
Tom Courtenay and Maggie Smith star in