Tuesday, July 16, 2013
Sometimes we (especially those of us approaching the latter years) have to be reminded that we are all getting older and that some of us, God willing, shall get to experience life in a retirement home. We should also remember that old wounds, loving interests and skills, solid friendships---despite the attack of time on body and mind---continue into advanced age, not the least among those for whom the arts was the reigning theme of their lives. This is well presented in the delightful movie The Quartet, directed by Dustin Hoffman, about four celebrated opera singers who end up at the same English retirement manor, the last just arriving and throwing the other three into a bit of a snit, especially one who was briefly married and terribly hurt by the newcomer. It really is a story of frayed (and solid) friendships, forgiveness, and the future (short as it might be for some), as well as the delight in performing that is really the core of all those who were professionals at the arts. Tom Courtenay, as the unforgiving and bitter cuckold Reginald, and Billy Connolly, as his overly randy but humorously entertaining life-long bud Wilf, are as delightful a screen pairing that I can recall. Pauline Collins is wonderful as the kindhearted, possibly formerly flirty or ditsy Cissy, member of the quartet who are living at Beecham House (and in many ways the grounds and building are another sterling part of the cast), but who is approaching senility at a slightly faster clip then her fellow singers. Into the mix arrives Maggie Smith, the unbending and formerly pampered by broken diva Jean. Michael Gambon, best known as Dumbledore in the Harry Potter series, plays the cantankerous old director. The rest of the cast is sprinkled with actual retired musicians, and they, as well as other regular actors with lesser roles, are all wonderful. There did not seem to be a single misstep. I especially loved how the film showed how egos and rivalries (and perhaps grudging respect) continue into old age, the steel perhaps weakened but the edge still sharp. The soundtrack is nice, and even though opera is not my thing, I loved all of the music. In other words, you do not have to be an aficionado to enjoy the movie, and I will admit to shedding a few tears.