Quartet is a not-yet-released film produced and directed by Dustin Hoffman. We had the chance to see it early at The Director’s Guild as part of the New Yorker Festival……and both Hoffman and one of the stars, Billy Connolly, were there to discuss the film. This is another movie focused on the trials and tribulations of aging gracefully. Like The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, this too stars Maggie Smith……plus Pauline Collins and Tom Courtenay. It also enlists a cadre of septuagenarian and octogenarian opera and philharmonic retirees.
The story is about a home in the English countryside (a lovely estate) where retired opera performers go to not-so-quietly live out their golden years. The set-up is that they perform an annual operatic gala to subsidize the home. There is the usual mix of personalities, playing on all the geriatric humor (with a British lilt), when Maggie Smith, the aging diva arrives at the home. We learn what a small community it is as they all know one another and have a great deal of complicating romantic history. This theme of love in the autumn leaves seems to be a charming theme these days…..as we baby boomers age.
It’s a shame it isn’t as easy for the entire population of the developed world to support their retirement in style by putting on a show. Its appropriate that this is set in Europe as this retirement horror show will get played out on the Continent over and over throughout the next 40 years. Nevertheless, Maggie Smith finally comes through and the Rigoletto Quartet brings down the house and props up the house (financially) at the same time.
Despite all my retirement Casandraing, this is a fine and poignant movie and Hoffman deserves credit for picking a good script and a meaningful theme.