Starring- Tom Courtenay
|There was something there but for the life of them they had|
no idea what it was.
It is rare to step into a film knowing nothing about it except for the stellar cast and the director, Mr. Dustin Hoffman. I was really intrigued by this film, it had been awhile since I had gone to the cinema to see a film that didn't involve Superheroes, explosions and/or comedy filled with ridiculously good looking idiots. The 'Quartet' is a strange creature, in a world, now filled with dark vigilantes, “pitch perfect” gleek wannabes and sparkling vampires, it has a unique property to it, genuine charm.
In Beecham House we are introduced to an oddball group of characters. It is a retirement home for all the stars of Opera. From the soloists to the soprano's, the backing vocalists and the musicians each have a place in this mad house. 'Wilf Bond'(Billy Connolly) who, after having a mild stroke, has his friend and Operatic partner, 'Reginald Paget'(Tom Courtenay) join him in this household. With 'Cecily “Cissy” Robson', they live out their days comfortably, trying to teach the younger generation about the wonder of opera and flirting with the staff. It is all well and good, until the operatic diva 'Jean Horton'(Maggie Smith) comes to live at Beecham house, bringing with her memories of betrayal and regret.
There are absolutely fantastic performances dotted throughout the film. From Billy Connolly's absurdly charming 'Wilf', to Tom Courtenays wonderfully dapper wit. Maggie Smith perfectly portrays the woman who knows that at one point in her life she was able to walk into a room and everyone would stop whatever they were doing and would just be in awe of her. Sheridan Smith is wonderful as 'Dr. Lucy Cogan', a woman who has to take care of these outrageous egos and eccentrics. The location is absolutely superb and the weather actually seems to mirror the emotions of the characters involved. I would like to say that every single character was fleshed out and even some of the background characters gave wonderful performances, and finally, the music, the music , the music, it's played beautifully, sung superbly and when 'Reggie' explains it to a teenager in one of his classes, it is articulated lovingly.
|This way to freedom, or pie.|
The plot isn't particularly original, as the film rolls on you begin to piece together where its going fairly easily. There is one or two characters that kind of are the jar jars of the piece. Pauline Collins is incredible as 'Cissy' she really is but there are time when her performance can come off as a bit over the top. Michael Gambon is a bit ridiculous as 'Cedric Livingstone', another performance that at times I felt he should have reigned it in just a little. At times I did feel that they played up to the stereotype that all films with an older cast do, they spoke on the movement of time, the loss of freedom, independence and youth. It is a necessary evil because these are people who are slowly losing the vigour to perform, which is their livelihood and their purpose in life.
Right, this film has flaws, obvious flaws. The usual kind of flaws in a film about aging stars, much like 'Still Crazy' which deals with a similar subject and funnily enough has Billy Connolly in it as well. However this film has such unique moments of shear acting elegance that in my opinion it just blows away all those cliches and gives you, the audience a truly human experience. These are people and all they wish is to use the gifts they weregiven to bring joy to an audience, it is a tragic beauty and is a wonderful directorial debut for Dustin Hoffman. The ugly is simply this, not enough people will see this in the cinema.
Seriously, go see it.