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Monday, December 17, 2012

QUARTET

By D.E.Levine

Actor Dustin Hoffman is no stranger to film but after 50 years in front of the camera, this is his first directorial attempt and he has excelled in the final result.  What a treat to watch and hear Quartet!

Quartet is a beautiful story told honestly and directly.  With a stellar cast that includes Dame Maggie Smith, comedian Billy Connolly, Michael Gambon, Pauline Collins and Tom Courtenay, the cast, who may not be immediately recognizable to some audiences, delivers realistic and heartfelt performances.

Set in an assisted retirement living home for classical musicians, in the beautiful English countryside, the audience is treated not only to the character stories and intrigues, but also to performances by renown British musicians and vocalists, who, now actually retired, show their amazing talents are still very much alive.
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Of course, there is a class system in place at the retirement home.  An unwritten rule says that dining room tables with window views are reserved for vocalists.  Also, every year on October 10th, the residents put on a gala in honor of Giuseppe Verdi in order to raise money for the home.  When we join the story, the selection for the current year is Rigoletto.

The central story revolves around the arrival of a new resident at the home, a famed opera singer.  This arrival stirs up old memories and opens old wounds.  It also results in new friendships being formed and loyalties being established.  And in the end "the show must go on" proves to be very, very true and applicable to this story.

The film is based on the successful play Quartet by Ronald Harwood, who wrote the screenplay  and it doesn't rely on any special effects.    The key to Quartet is excellent acting and musical performances.

For those viewers in the habit of leaving before the screen credits roll  -- don't.  The credits for Quartet show pictures of the actors, musicians and vocalists in their younger days, with a summation of their background.