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Every diva deserves an encore...

An ebullient encore not only for its central foursome – Tom Courtenay, Pauline Collins, Billy Connolly and Maggie Smith – but also for the distinguished musicians who comprise the rest of the ensemble, Quartet shows retirement hasn’t diluted the drama one bit at a rest home for old stage-folk. Though never the sort of actor who ‘really wanted to direct’, Dustin Hoffman picked the right piece of material with which to make the leap, adapting Ronald Harwood’s 1999 play with the sort of actor-friendly generosity that makes the performances really sing. Quartet celebrates the vitality of those whose time in the spotlight has passed, casting a handful of legends who are still going strong in their eighth decades. Old flames are rekindled when once-massively popular opera star Jean Horton (Smith) arrives at Beecham House, where ex-husband Reginald (Courtenay) had hoped to find ‘a dignified senility’. Though Jean’s arrival excites the other residents – apart from a Norma Desmond-like longtime rival (Gwyneth Jones) – it reopens deep wounds for Reginald. The Beecham regulars try to convince Jean to join them in an annual fundraising concert. Their plan hinges on Jean reuniting with Reginald, Cissy (Collins, amiably dotty) and Wilf (Connolly) to perform Verdi’s ‘Rigoletto’ together once more. The star soloist is fully aware that her prime has past and would prefer to be remembered for the voice she once had – a voice she sometimes revisits by listening to vinyl recordings of past triumphs in the privacy of her room. Reminiscent of Gosford Park in that there always seems to be something going in the adjoining room or just beyond the edges of the frame, Quartet convincingly transforms Hedsor House in Taplow, England, into a bustling anthill of geriatric activity. With an assist from Dario Marianelli’s effusive score, Scottish comic Connolly supplies much of the pic’s charisma, playing a singer whose recent stroke has eliminated the last of his inhibitions. Just saucy enough to delight the target aud without crossing the line, the outspoken Wilf offers a running commentary throughout, antagonizing the other residents when he’s not shamelessly flirting with the head doctor (Sheridan Smith). Between Jean and Reginald’s long-simmering feelings and Wilf’s colorful antics, Quartet offers a spirited portrait of souls who, when that final curtain-call comes, intend to go singing, dancing and swearing into that good night. – Peter Debruge, Variety Official Trailer

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Directed by: 
Dustin Hoffman
Running Time: 
Maggie Smith, Billy Connoly, Michael Gambon, Tom Courtenay, Pauline Collins
Screenplay by: 
Screenplay by: Ronald Harwood, Based on his own play

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