For his directorial debut (at the age of 75), Dustin Hoffman delivers an unashamedly lighthearted and indulgent comedy drama starring some of the UK’s finest veterans. Set in a fictional retirement home for musicians, the film charts the arrival of a new resident – in the form of Maggie Smith’s former prima donna – and how her presence disrupts the atmosphere and organised chaos to which the other residents have grown rather accustomed. Billy Connolly, Tom Courtenay and Pauline Collins are the other members of a once renowned opera quartet, who are now faced with the arrival of their fearsome fourth member, who none of them have seen for decades since she left under a dark cloud. With the future of the home in the balance, resident blowhard Michael Gambon rallies the troops for a fundraising gala concert, and the prospect of reuniting the quartet for a performance of Rigoletto would safely put the home back in the black. But will the former cast members be able to bury the hatchet after all these years?
Very much in a similar vein to last year’s Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, this is a gentle romp about old people for old people, but the talented cast do such a great job that the film will appeal to younger audiences too. No doubt a subject close to the director’s heart, as well as the cast themselves, Quartet is a film about embracing your fate, accepting that your best days are behind tyou, but embracing your love of the craft purely for its own sake. Hardly highbrow or intellectually taxing stuff, but rather an effortless and thoroughly entertaining folly that boasts a faultless cast of gracefully aging thesps.