If you liked "Best Exotic Marigold Hotel" you will love "Quartet". Dustin Hoffman directs but alas does not appear. Not that the cast is light-weight. Billy Connolly with some gravitas plays the role of a once great tenor, while having a not entirely serious roving eye for attractive females. Michael Gambon is the maestro with a failing memory. Pauline Collins and Tom Courtenay play a devoted couple, battling the onset of dementia.
The setting is glorious – a Downton Abbey look-alike, with magical grounds. Then enters the diva – Maggie Smith, complete with attitude and, as we discover, vulnerabilities – not least that she has been married to another resident.
Will Maggie Smith consent to sing in a quartet at a benefit concert which may save their home for at least another year? Might the magic return to her former marriage? Will Pauline Collins manage to sing what once was her most famous aria?
Quartet is a kindly, yet at times unflinching, view of ageing. The musical sound-track is glorious. The humour is bitter-sweet and the mutual support and affection between the ageing artists is poignant and touching. And many of the elderly musicians on the screen have had their moments of glory. Don't skip the credits – they show them as they were in the sixties and seventies in their starring roles.
Perhaps this is ageing seen through rose-coloured glasses. But it affirms the value of people at whatever age, and suggests that it is never too late to love, never too late to forgive.