Donate Now to Support KDHX

Listen Live
Friday, 25 January 2013 12:00

'Quartet' sings off-key

'Quartet' sings off-key bbc.co.uk/bbcfilms/film/quartet
Written by Martha K. Baker
Rate this item
(0 votes)

About this Media...

This movie should be so much better. It squats solidly at the mediocre level, but, mercy! It should have been so much better, what with the proven actor, Dustin Hoffman, serving as director, and a roster of stars that should have sparkled all over the place.

Maggie Smith, who has won an Oscar, an Emmy and a Tony, couldn't win a teddy bear at the carnival midway in this role, which asks for her to stretch not a scintilla. Ordinarily, Billy Connelly, who was Mr. Brown in the film "Mrs. Brown" with Judi Dench, could read the phone book and get a standing O. Pauline Collins, one of the originators of the original "Upstairs Downstairs" and a standout in "Albert Nobbs" and "Shirley Valentine," manages to portray an addled woman sadly. And Tom Courtenay and Michael Gambon (stunning in "The Singing Detective" in 1986) serve merely as place-holders in "Quartet."

The screenplay was written by Robert Harwood from his 1999 play of the same name, and, given Harwood's credentials -- he wrote the screenplays for "The Pianist" and "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly" -- "Quartet," the play itself should be better as a foundation for the film. But it's not. The plot is simple: A home for retired musicians puts on a fund-raising gala every year on Giuseppe Verdi's birthday, October 10 with a quartet sung from "Rigoletto."

This year, the vulgar boulevardier, Wilf Bond, played by Connelly; the addled Cissy (Collins), and the professorial Reggie (Courtenay) are prepared to sing along with the other residents as the chorus. A new singer, a diva, swans into the home. This is Jean Horton, played starchily by Smith, never took fewer than 12 curtain calls. To add complications to this quartet, Jean used to be married to Reggie, who is busy teaching classes to the local students comparing hip-hop with opera. He calls opera the "outpouring of all the lessons inside us." Reggie would rather not deal with his ex-wife, and she would rather not sing ever again. "Don't insult memories of what I was," she begs. But, of course, she sings at the end.

Also at the very end, parallel to the credits, are the faces of the actual opera singers, playing the aged in this home. It's an homage that almost makes the whole movie worthwhile instead of a waste.

Dustin Hoffman's direction includes gorgeous shots of the greenswards and copses surrounding this home for retired musicians. The colors are wonderful throughout, especially Smith's teals, but the film is bland, hardly worth singing home about. "Quartet" should have been so much better, a "Best Exotic Marigold Hotel" right in England, but it is pretty boring.

Sponsor Message

Become a Sponsor

Find KDHX Online

KDHX on Instagram
KDHX on YouTube
KDHX on SoundCloud
KDHX on Facebook
KDHX on Twitter
KDHX on flickr

Local Artist Spotlight


Karate Bikini - A Simpler Sugar

Wed November 26
Karate Bikini is an eight piece ensemble who's members hail from St. Louis and the metro area. They are a large band with a large sound. Their latest album A Simpler Sugar is full of upbeat pop songs,…

Jah Orah and KD Assassin

Wed November 19

KDHX Recommends

December
Friday
05

Roscoe Mitchell and Craig Taborn

An internationally known musician, composer and innovator, Roscoe Mitchell began his distinguished career in the spirited 1960s of Chicago. NYC pianist and ECM recording artist, Craig Taborn, has remained a ubiquitous presence on the...


December
Thursday
11

KDHX Discovery Series: History of Psychedelia

The KDHX Discovery Series presents the "History of Psychedelia," with DJ valis. KDHX DJ, valis will take you on a multimedia journey through the annals of psychedelic musical history. The evening will feature a...


December
Sunday
14

88.1 KDHX Musical Merry-Go-Round welcomes Celia's Yuletide Express Secular Holid...

88.1 KDHX Musical Merry-Go-Round welcomes Celia's Yuletide Express Secular Holid... 88.1 KDHX Musical Merry-Go-Round welcomes Celia's Yuletide Express Secular Holiday Sing-along Sunday, December 14 at Noon. Tickets available online.  Toys, clothes, food and other gifts will be collected at the door for...


Get Answers!

If you have questions or need to contact KDHX, visit our answers portal at answers.kdhx.org.

Online Users

6 users and 8390 guests online
Sign in with Facebook

SYSTEM: S5 Box

Login/My Account

Sign in with Facebook