Movie Mom

Movie Mom


Quartet

posted by Nell Minow
B
Lowest Recommended Age:High School
MPAA Rating:Rated PG-13 for brief strong language and suggestive humor
Profanity:Some strong and colorful language
Nudity/Sex:Explicit sexual references and crude humor
Alcohol/Drugs:Drinking
Violence/Scariness:Issues of aging and mortality
Diversity Issues:A theme of the movie
Movie Release Date:January 25, 2013
DVD Release Date:June 18, 2013

There is something splendid about seeing fine actors at the top of their game, still nailing it — in a movie about older performers, still nailing it.  Last year, it was Maggie Smith in “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel.”  On television, she is the highlight of the world’s favorite television series, “Downton Abbey.”  And now, the two-time Oscar winner continues her total world domination as the diva in “Quartet,” an endearing story of an assisted living facility for retired musicians and singers.

The setting is intriguing, a grand but decaying assisted living facility for retired musicians and singers.  First-time director Dustin Hoffman and his luminous cast of actors bring wit, dignity, and all their years of experience to bring the characters to life far in excess of the predictable plot and one-infirmity-to-a-character screenplay that seems to have been inspired by “The Golden Girls.”  Like Sophia, Wilf (Billy Connelly) has an age-related impairment of his impulse control, and because he is old, his constant references to sex and attempts to hit on any female he sees are supposed to be funny.  Connelly makes Wilf far more appealing than that description contemplates but showing us the character’s vulnerability and good spirits in the face of the loss of control of what he says and of his ability to be the kind of man who has access to opportunities for passion.

YouTube Preview Image

The Rose of the group is Cissy, played by one of my favorite actresses, Pauline Collins (the original “Upstairs Downstairs,” “No Honestly,” “Shirley Valentine”).  She struggles with forgetfulness but has a sweet nature.  Then there’s stern Reggie (beautifully played by Tom Courteney of “The Loneliness of the Long-Distance Runner” and “Doctor Zhivago”), the Dorothy figure, and the Blanche character — the free spirited diva Jean (Maggie Smith), whose arrival creates opportunities and stirs up old conflicts, rivalries, and hurts.

The beloved sanctuary is in financial trouble.  The only thing that can save it is the annual fund-raiser concert.  If Jean will agree to re-create one of her greatest triumphs, the quartet from “Rigoletto,” performed with Wilf, Reggie, and Cissy, under the direction of the magisterial, caftan-wearing Cedric (Michael Gambon), they could sell enough tickets to keep it going.  But Jean does not want to perform.  She does not want to be there.  She does not want to be old.

There is more than one way to rage against the dying of the light.  There is something ineffably touching about the way that “the show must go on” takes on a deeper meaning for these old troupers, both on and off-screen.

Parents should know that this film has strong language and crude humor as well as issues of aging and mortality.

Family discussion: Did this movie make you think differently about getting older?  How?  Who surprised you the most?

If you like this, try: “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel” and “Meeting Venus” and some of the earlier work of these stars, including “The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie,” “The Loneliness of the Long-Distance Runner,” “Shirley Valentine” and “Mrs. Brown”



  • Kevin L.

    Wrong clip, Nell! I’m surprised you didn’t mention last year’s similarly themed “A Late Quartet”, with Christopher Walken, Philip Seymour Hoffman, and Catherine Keener.

    • Nell Minow

      Whew, thanks, Kevin! I did think of “Late Quartet,” but didn’t like the film enough to bring it up. Did you like it?

Previous Posts

Trailer: The Normal Heart
Larry Kramer's searing, Tony award-winning play "The Normal Heart" is coming to HBO with an all-star cast. [iframe width="560" height="315" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/XMN75Opf1_A" frameborder="0"]

posted 8:00:57am Apr. 23, 2014 | read full post »

The Top 100 Animated Films of All Time: The Animators Pick
Time Out New York asked top animators to pick the greatest 100 animated films of all time.  All the Disney, Pixar, and Miyazaki classics are there, plus some surprises.  I have some disagreements, but am entirely in favor of the #1 pick. [youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iAykOz1gWi4[/you

posted 3:59:23pm Apr. 22, 2014 | read full post »

Interview: Daniel Licht, Composer of "Dexter"
Daniel Licht composed the music for "Dexter" as well as two of the "Silent Hill" video games and films including "Permanent Midnight" and "Stephen King's Thinner."  He talked to me about the difference between composing for thrillers and comedy and why he hit his guitar with a frying pan. Tell m

posted 8:00:40am Apr. 22, 2014 | read full post »

Happy Earth Day! Movies About Our Planet
Celebrate Earth Day with some of these great films about our planet, its beauties and its challenges: 1. An Inconvenient Truth Al Gore's Oscar-winning documentary makes a powerful case for the dire effects of climate change -- and an even more powerful case for our ability to prevent more damage

posted 7:00:55am Apr. 22, 2014 | read full post »

Smithsonian: Earth Day Movies for Kids
The Smithsonian has a terrific list of movies for kids about the environment -- great films for Earth Day or any day. [youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HgT_xT587MY[/youtube]

posted 4:53:58pm Apr. 21, 2014 | read full post »




Report as Inappropriate

You are reporting this content because it violates the Terms of Service.

All reported content is logged for investigation.