The new film, “Quartet,” is sweet, sentimental and, at times, introspective. Dustin Hoffman directs the cast of first-rate, seasoned British actors in this comedy about retired musicians who reside in a senior living facility. If you’re thinking “target audience,” think again.
Beecham House, a beautiful, sprawling mansion, is located in the English countryside. It houses famous classical musicians, exclusively. The inhabitants include Wilf (Billy Connolly), baritone and loveable skirt-chaser; Cissy (Pauline Collins), a cheery, forgetful contralto; new arrival, renowned soprano and prima donna, Jean (Maggie Smith); and Reggie (Tom Courtenay), a tenor once married to Jean who’s still licking his emotional wounds. Long ago they had performed the classic production of “Rigoletto” as a quartet.
It seems Beecham House is in financial straits and, to save it, the musical octogenarians plan to put on a benefit concert; a command performance of the quartet’s “Rigoletto” will be highlighted. However, there’s a glitch when the overly haughty Jean refuses to sing. Eventually, her stubbornness predictably wanes as she puts her pride aside.
Adapted by Ronald Harwood from his stage play, “Quartet” boasts a witty script delivered by the people who do it best. And under Hoffman’s tutelage in his first role as director, the actors seem extremely comfortable in their own, somewhat saggy, skins. Hoffman comments that his film is “about living,” while Harwood observes it’s “about surviving with dignity.”
For me, “Quartet” is all about the tour de force compilation of exquisite actors who never falter with age. Connolly, Smith, Collins and Courtenay are pure joy to watch. But it’s Michael Gambon who steals the show as the caftan-clad blowhard director Cedric, who is constantly taking all of the credit. Managing to scene steal amongst such celebrated thespians is no easy task.
“Quartet” is rife with sonorous music, glorious scenery and lots of laughs. It’s a genteel ensemble piece driven by colorful characters, snappy dialogue and enduring love. Staying for the credits is imperative. It inspired two rounds of applause from the audience and was well deserved.
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5 Fall Music Series
1:00 pm - 3:00 pm
6 Fuzion Dance Artists Behind the Curtain with Larry Keigwin of Keigwin + Company
12:30 pm - 1:30 pm
7 The Fine Arts Society of Sarasota & The Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall Present Public Art & Backstage Tours
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Longboat Key resident Arlene McKitrick celebrated her 200th golf championship win this week at Sara Bay Country Club in an FSGA event.
Mote receives NOAA grant
Mote Marine Laboratory recently received a $99,615 grand for its dolphin and whale rehabilitation efforts from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
Correction: Heitlers to net 75 years in April
In its Sept. 18 issue, the Longboat Observer featured Plymouth Harbor resident George Heitler, a lifelong tennis player who has played tennis for most of his 99 years and is a regular at the Longboat Key Public Tennis Center.