Freelance writer. Melbourne based cinephile. Fond of food.
Published November 24th 2012
The blue rinse set have long been under represented in cinema, and tellingly, it's usually the British who come to their rescue by offering the likes of Judi Dench a meaty project to get her teeth into. No doubt the commercial success of The Exotic Marigold Hotel will have English film producers scrambling to get similar grey-themed films into production.
For this reason, Quartet stands a good chance of hitting a chord with what is proving to be a growing section of the public craving for more stories they can identify with. Given that Quartet also serves up leading roles for such favourites as Maggie Smith and Billy Connolly, and is directed by Dustin Hoffman, only makes the film's success more assured.
It's a pity then that the final product isn't as satisfying as it's ingredients would suggest. Perhaps the targeted demographic may identify with the characters, and could possibly be comforted by the familiarity of the story line. If they have any sense of discernment, however, they should feel cheated by the sheer sloppiness of the execution and the story's predictability.
Set in a nursing home for former musicians and opera singers, this is basically a let's-put-on-a-show scenario with the requisite clashing egos, long standing feuds and yes, even simmering passions.
The name players all get the chance to do what they do best. Smith is her usual arch, toffee-nosed bitch, Pauline Collins does that ditzy vague thing she always does, and Tom Courtenay, so sorely missed from our screens for so long, is as heartbreakingly stoic as ever. Billy Connolly is the only one who strays from typecasting by reigning in his broad comic manner, although he remains the prime source of comic relief.
There are moments of sweetness, but for an actor who has made a career by taking on challenging roles, Dustin Hoffman has chosen an oddly tame project as his directing debut.
This may hit the right note for the silver set, but for the rest of us, this is as much fun as you'd expect to have in a nursing home.