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Dustin Hoffman's directorial debut houses one of the finest cast assemblages of 2012....
Anchor bay / 98 Minutes / 2012 / Rated PG-13 / Street Date: June 18, 2013
Dustin Hoffman’s directorial debut Quartet is riddled with narrative cliché, but its calm, collected storytelling style and impossibly high-profile cast wholly compensate for its dramatic indiscretions. Quartet is a movie whose every moment you see coming from four or five miles away – predictability is not its strong suit – but once we’re introduced to the denizens of Beecham House, rampant familiarity becomes not only appropriate, but somehow pleasant.
Beecham House, you see, is a giant home for retired musicians. Reg Paget (Tom Courtenay!), a music lecturer with a particular ear for modern genres, is there, as is Wilf Bond (Billy Connolly!), a silver fox who will hit on any woman with a beating heart, despite a series of strokes that constantly threaten to end his amorous conquests for good. Then there’s Cissy Robson (Pauline Collins!) and a newcomer by the name of Jean Horton (Maggie Smith!) who fill out the film’s titular capacity.
The exclamation points earlier were purposeful simply because they prove that, if anything, Hoffman knows how to surround himself with greatness. The dramatic conceit of Quartet is cheesy as Hell – these musicians have to ‘get the band together one last time’ in order to raise funds for a Beecham House performance – but once the film’s pistons get popping, it inspires enough inertia to keep the thing afloat throughout.
Quartet is not a classic film, nor is it a particularly nuanced one, but as a broad-stroked piece of mainstream storytelling (call it Best Exotic Marigold Hotel for the orchestra crowd), it’s charmingly diverting. But know this about the guy recommending the picture to you: the mere fact that Tom Courtenay and Maggie Smith share not only screen credits but actual scenes together is enough to give this bad boy a thumbs-up on its own. Hoffman could have done his worst and I’d still applaud.