Tag Archive: Maggie Smith

Movie Review:

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?

BeechamHouseGive 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.

Poster from the film
The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

When a group of unrelated Brits face the rising costs of retirement in the UK, they collectively find themselves on a bus heading towards Jaipur, India, and their future home, billed as The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel.   They each begin their journey with anticipation, trepidation, longing,  and a sprinkle of fear and quiet resignation.   We expect the usual “seniors experiencing inevitable adjustments” but what we don’t expect but readily embrace is the refreshing humanity each character exemplifies as they make the best of their situation and for the most part, embrace with cheer and optimism, how they view their last chapters. 

It’s a refreshing look at common misconception that there is nothing going forward. 

The young hotel manager is brilliantly delivered to us by Academy Award Winner Dev Patel.  A glimmering vintage cast – Judi Dench, Maggie Smith,  Tom Wilkinson, Bill Nighy, Penelope Wilton, Celia Imrie and Ronald Pickup, all breathe unpredictable life into this well worn plot and reveal promises we seniors might otherwise overlook.  It’s a lovely turn of events that will have you smiling all the way through the 120 minute film.  Well crafted, beautifully executed.  Don’t miss it. 

As  the young manager reminds us throughout the film, “You’ll see, in the end everything will be all right.  And if it’s not all right, it’s not the end.”  It’s just what we need these days…a happy ending.  Enjoy!

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