A quartet is a composition for four instruments or voices; a group of things that are considered a unit, or that belong together.
And so it is that this Quartet is the most endearing of films and it’s that belonging thing that tugs at your heart throughout this thoughtful, touching, charming story about living in the moment, no matter how fleeting those moments are as we face the final chapters of our lives.
A home for aging musicians on the magnificent grounds of “Beecham House*” is the setting for three of the most delightful aging stars in the opera firmament: Tom Courtenay as Regie, Billy Connolly as Wilf and Pauline Collins as Cissy. Enter the diva of all divas, Maggie Smith as Jean, who cannot face the realities of her reduced circumstances – financially, professionally, physically, emotionally – but then, who of us can do it with much aplomb?
Dustin Hoffman directs this story of love, humor and reconciliation with a concert master’s touch. Tom Courtenay’s kind and aging gigolo is completely charming without lurching into lechery; Cissy’s addled memory-lapses are the perfect foil for tension breaking; and Reggie is perhaps more devastatingly handsome with age. The apex of their collective operatic careers was their performance in Verdi’s Rigoletto and its famous act III quartet “one of the finest examples of ensemble writing in all of opera.”
The annual fund-raising Gala is looming. Diva Jean’s arrival introduces the irresistible possibility bigger donors if the quartet will only reunite. Will they do it? Can they do it – will their voices hold up? And what of the smoldering love once felt for two of our stars? Can they be reunited as well?
Give yourself a treat and see for yourself. Tears, laughter, lovely sentimentality, compassion, glorious music, human emotion, happy ending. This quartet definitely belongs together. What more could you want?
* Hedsor House was once the home of the Dowager Princess of Wales, mother of George III, (aka Beecham House in the film) in Buckinghamshire, England. It has only been open to the public since 2008.