This movie has two male and two female leads, so it doesn’t really fit the female led theme of my reviews. But it has Maggie Smith so how could I resist? Quartet tells the story of Beachem House, a nursing home for retired classical musicians, and their fundraiser performance to save their home. It falls squarely in the performance movie subgenre, and is predictable in the usual ways.
Quartet begins with three elderly former members of an opera quartet already living in the home together as friends. Cecily (Pauline Collins), Wilfred (Billy Connolly), and Reginald (Tom Courtenay) are all friends. Their former fourth, and Reginald’s ex-wife, Jean (Maggie Smith) is moving into the house just in time for the big show, after a successful career as a soloist. Jean must seek forgiveness from the husband she wronged, as the other members of the quartet try to persuade her to sing for the recital.
Things I liked
The casting is amazing, with several stars of British film, theater, and opera. There’s a particularly tender scene as Cecily is experiencing a memory loss, and Wilfred, the somewhat “bad boy” character, is kind to her. Maggie Smith saying “Go fuck yourself” is everything.
Things I didn’t like
It was predictable and in many ways unsurprising. That’s not the worst thing in a movie, but it was one of this film’s weaknesses. Wilfred’s character flirts inappropriately with his doctor and nurses, and this is excused by saying he lost his “filter” after a stroke. It’s treated as funny or possibly even charming, not seriously disrespectful.
Overall this movie is sweet and light, with just enough serious moments to keep it from floating away. Highly enjoyable if not mentally taxing.