2012 - Dir.: Dustin Hoffman - 1 hours 38 minutes
Shown at the FeckenOdeon on 25th January, 2014
All of a sudden it’s OK to be old in the movies - not only old but old and British. A crop of box office hits including “Calendar Girls” and “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel” convinced the big cinema chains that the wrinkly pound was worth chasing. It won’t last long of course. The studio executive committees are busy grinding out predictable clones and there have already been a couple of fairly nauseating examples - including one that virtually repeated the plot of Calendar Girls (only with chaps - try not to think about it!).
Quartet could easily have turned out that way but it’s saved by a director who eats, sleeps and dreams cinema - and who, surprisingly, has never directed a film before. Dustin Hoffman was 75 when he first shouted “action” on a movie set and you can feel his determination to make this one count (perhaps his first and last chance?) - undoubtedly his sympathy for the subject matter is perfectly natural. He’s helped by a literate script by Sir Ronald Harwood (76) who rewrote his stage play of the same name.
The play ran in London in 1999 and 2000 and was a popular success. The Daily Telegraph commented: "...the show's heart is in the right place and a cherishable company of senior thesps give it everything they’ve got, breathing vitality into a script that could be an inert embarrassment if performed by less accomplished players." The senior thesps involved in 1999 were Sir Donald Sinden, Alec McCowen, Stephanie Cole and Angela Thorne. Tonight’s quartet are no less senior and no less cherishable!
Tom Courtney (75), Maggie Smith (78), Billy Connolly (70) and Pauline Collins (72) relish the chance to prove that it really ain’t over until the fat lady stops singing.
PLEASE REMAIN SEATED DURING THE CREDITS - apart from the fact that the music is beautiful, there are fascinating “then and now” pictures of members of the cast - many of whom have been performers on the operatic and musical stage for a very long time (opera lovers should look out for former Royal Opera stars Dame Gwyneth Jones (76) and John Rawnsley (a mere 62).