Commentary
5:00 am
Thu February 7, 2013

Movie Review: Quartet

I thought Quartet was a short-story movie, like the 1948 classic of Somerset Maugham stories. I was delighted to find that it is one of those multi-starred character studies that the British are so good at, but Americans hardly touch except on television like "Seinfeld," which is famously about nothing.

Quartet is also not much about plot, but has British veterans like Maggie Smith, Tom Courtenay, Pauline Collins, Michael Gambon and Billy Connolly, plus a lot of other old veterans identified in the closing credits (which are worth sitting through).

I can call them "old" because they are all living in a retirement home for musical stars-- there is little that is old about them otherwise. They are even preparing to put on a show to save their retirement home, like somewhat mature Mickey Rooneys and Judy Garlands.

The director of the movie is Dustin Hoffman, but one wonders how much direction he gave to actors who were working on the screen before he was conceived.

Whatever he did or did not do, he did or did not do it perfectly, and everybody seems to be having a "whee" of a time. A man of mature years remarked on the way out, "Oh, if only old age could be like that." I know a number of people who prove it can.

Rehearsals for the big show provide us with a lot of first-rate musical numbers, from opera to "Are You Having Any Fun?" by a pair of old vaudevillians. There is a whisper of a plot about Tom Courtenay and Maggie Smith, and I have to leave it to you as to why the end credits suggest that we may be afflicted with lip sync.

But who cares? Quartet is the most totally relaxing movie I've seen in a long time, and I may buy the soundtrack just to hear some more of the music.