170 of 177 people found the following review helpful
This review is from: Quartet (DVD)
Beecham House, the setting of this film, is an English country estate, a posh historical mansion surrounded by acres of park and garden. It's autumn, the leaves are gorgeous, Golden Pond was never so scenic, and the inhabitants -- a couple dozen octogenarian "retired professional musicians living on charity -- are effectively in Paradise. They're a handsome crowd too, these oldsters with much of their talent and all of their ego intact. Not an oxygen tank or a movable chemo-drip in sight! Alzheimer's, senility, dementia? Acknowledged but quaintly innocuous. Crotchets and squabbles? No worse than among younger folk. A doctor in residence and a staff of sympathetic nurses? Hey, nothing but the ritz for beloved stars of yestershow! A real place? Don't we wish, we soon-to-be-aged musicians! It's fantasyland, but I'm NOT complaining. The film is too visually luscious not to be appreciated, and the acting is too artful not to be admired.
Bill Connolly has the "Peter Pan" role as Wilfred, the irrepressible flirt and funster of Beecham House. Pauline Collins is the sparkly but memory-challenged Cecily, the perfect Tinkerbell to run errands and deliver messages in this musical Neverland. Tom Courtenay is Reginald, earnest and unimpaired though subtly challenged by his own realism in this kingdom of Children Who Decline to Grow Old. Maggie Smith is the haughty, acerbic narcissistic super-diva Jean, to whom falls the Captain Hook role of antagonist. We the audience all know that she'll be captured eventually, conquered by joie de vivre, and join the Lost Boys in their climactic gala rumpus. Great fun! Who doesn't love Peter Pan?
"Getting old is what people do," says Reginald somewhere in the middle of the film, and ain't that the bleary-eyed truth! I've seen three movies in real theaters this winter -- Quartet, A Separation, and Michael Haneke's devastating Amour -- all of them focusing my 71-year-old attention on aging and dying. Is this some kind of omen? Foreboding? A warning shot across the bow of my walker? I won't grow up! I won't grow up! Peter? Tinkerbell? Where are you now that I need you?
Perhaps Dustin Hoffman is the J.M. Barrie of our generation.
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Initial post: Jan 27, 2013 10:15:41 AM PST
Be careful to notice that about half the reviews posted on this film pertain to a completely different film also titled Quartet.
Posted on Jan 27, 2013 10:42:19 AM PST
There should be places like Beecham House. Why is age the great negator? I'm never going to be old. I was young for so long, it got to be a habit. I will simply segue into 'dead' and eliminate that last miserable part. Some people were born to be geezers. Some step on it like a bug. You don't need Peter or Tink...you already know the formula...
In reply to an earlier post on Jan 27, 2013 11:22:42 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Jan 27, 2013 1:47:20 PM PST
Right on, NyiNya. I'm taking up sky-diving as soon as my embouchure or my hearing starts to fail.
In reply to an earlier post on Jan 27, 2013 12:57:31 PM PST
Good idea, Gio. When my upper arms go, I'm going scuba diving.
Posted on Jan 27, 2013 3:46:39 PM PST
H. Schneider says:
No, better don't.
Is the other film the one called A Late Quartet?
Posted on Jan 27, 2013 3:57:44 PM PST
Friederike Knabe says:
GB, your lovely review reminded me that I wanted to this Quartet... and I have just come back from it. I can only concur with you and add that , apparently quite a few of the residents were played by former, retired musicians as well as actors. In addition to Bill Connelly, Michael Gambon deserves mentioning, as the "director". I love his acting, so English... F
Posted on Jan 28, 2013 12:31:06 PM PST
Pippin O' Rohan says:
Finally, a comprehensive review on the movie "Quartet" which has been making the rounds here for the last month and longer, leaving this potential viewer somewhat clueless as to the subject matter. A few acquaintances have been sending hints this way as follows:
'Went to see Quartet yesterday and it was quite fun. Maggie Smith outstanding as always' or, 'Enjoyed Quartet although I thought the actor (?) had too big a role and was...' or, 'Supposed to be good and will be interesting to see what Dustin Hoffman does with this'. True, I finally caught a review from the NYTimes, albeit a garbled one, which had too long an introduction about the making of the movie and the cast, and by the time I finished it, I had already forgotten the story-line.
So it was a pleasure and helpful to read your summary which opens on Beecham House, idyllic by the sounds of it. It was an added incentive to see this movie on reading these further lines of yours: "A couple of dozen octogenarian -- retired professional musicians living on charity -- are effectively in Paradise. They're a handsome crowd too, these oldsters with much of their talent and all of their ego intact".
This scenario cheered me up as I can think of a few people of this ilk who would thrive with their musical talents when they reach this elderly age to find themselves in this surrounding. All to say, I agree that it would be quite wonderful if there was a 'Beecham Home' for elderly musicians. There are small residences in the heart of Paris for our elderlies afflicted with senility and similar disorders. They go to museums, enjoy Matisse and the latest art exhibitions on Tuesdays reserved for them only; young musicians, poets and singers come to see them, etc. Their younger friends visit at times for lunch where wine is served with an excellent three course menu in moderate portions, or they show up at tea time and sit around in the garden, weather permitting. A big fuss is made for their birthdays with champagne; the Christmas repast is a joyous affair, and to sum it up, it's the Ritz all right. You don't have to do the laundry either. A la bonheur!
As for the cast of "Quartet", I would like to see Tom Courtenay in particular and Maggie Smith who appears to be growing better and better with age in stature and magnitude. In the meantime, Mr. Bruno, if you persist in seeing more-or-less in a row movies such as Amour and Separation, it's going to take you that much longer to grow up to be a kid and take off on adventures with Peter Pan and the other cast of characters.
Dustin Hoffman may be the J.M. Barrie of our generation although I enjoyed tremendously 'Neverland' many years ago with Johnny Depp and my movie companion tried to ruin it afterwards by comparing J.M. Barrie to a famous late musician. At times there's always a spoiler in the picture. In the meantime, thanks for this bright and uplifting review of yours. Mrs. Tinkerbell
Posted on Jan 28, 2013 3:17:15 PM PST
Beth Janelle Rhoades says:
What a lovely description of the beautiful interlude we enjoyed this weekend! I watched the movie with my Canadian friend who was born in England. At the end of the movie, all I wanted to know was are there really places like that in Britain? The U.S. sure doesn't have a magical place like that, that I am aware of.
Posted on Mar 3, 2013 3:45:22 PM PST
lrfyu 6666 says:
Absolutely a wonderful film. Pauline Collins-Upstairs downstairs-is wonderful as is Maggie and the other castmembers. This is not about plot.
Posted on Mar 9, 2013 3:46:30 PM PST
J.B. Lyle says:
Giordano Bruno? As in, burned at the stake? At any rate, I enjoyed your review and loved the movie.