Quartet (2012 film)

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Quartet
Quartet-Poster.jpg
Directed byDustin Hoffman
Produced by
  • Finola Dwyer
  • Stewart Mackinnon
Screenplay byRonald Harwood
Based onQuartet 
by Ronald Harwood
Starring
Music byDario Marianelli
CinematographyJohn de Borman
Editing byBarney Pilling
Studio
  • Headline Pictures
  • BBC Films
  • DCM Productions
  • Finola Dwyer Productions
Distributed byMomentum Pictures
Release dates
  • 9 September 2012 (2012-09-09) (TIFF)
  • 1 January 2013 (2013-01-01) (United Kingdom)
  • 11 January 2013 (2013-01-11) (United States (limited))
Running time98 minutes
CountryUnited Kingdom
LanguageEnglish
Budget$11,000,000
Box office$59,520,298[1]
 
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Quartet
Quartet-Poster.jpg
Directed byDustin Hoffman
Produced by
  • Finola Dwyer
  • Stewart Mackinnon
Screenplay byRonald Harwood
Based onQuartet 
by Ronald Harwood
Starring
Music byDario Marianelli
CinematographyJohn de Borman
Editing byBarney Pilling
Studio
  • Headline Pictures
  • BBC Films
  • DCM Productions
  • Finola Dwyer Productions
Distributed byMomentum Pictures
Release dates
  • 9 September 2012 (2012-09-09) (TIFF)
  • 1 January 2013 (2013-01-01) (United Kingdom)
  • 11 January 2013 (2013-01-11) (United States (limited))
Running time98 minutes
CountryUnited Kingdom
LanguageEnglish
Budget$11,000,000
Box office$59,520,298[1]

Quartet is a 2012 British comedy-drama film based on the play of the same title by Ronald Harwood, which ran in London's West End from September 1999 until January 2000.[2] It was filmed late in 2011 at Hedsor House, Buckinghamshire. The film is actor Dustin Hoffman's directorial debut.

Plot[edit]

The plot takes place in Beecham House, a retirement home for gifted musicians, patterned after the real-life Casa di Riposo per Musicisti founded by Giuseppe Verdi.

Reg, Wilf and Cissy are retired former opera singers who often worked together in the past; among other guests in the house are Cedric Livingstone, a former director, and Diva Anne Langley. All the guests in the retirement home continue to be engaged in their former profession in one way or the other, which gives place to lots of amusing times in the home, but also some rivalries amongst the musicians.

Finances threaten closure of the home but proceeds from a yearly gala concert on Verdi's birthday hold hope for a continuation of the place. However Cedric has been rather desperate due to the fact that some of the most prominent singers have either died or decided not to participate at all. Amongst the former collaborations between Reg, Wilf and Cissy, there is a particularly popular recording of Rigoletto, which is very prominent amongst opera buffs as THE Rigoletto of the after-war era.

Most of the guests in the home also teach young visitors in their different fields, by giving violin, piano or clarinet lessons, in Reg's case it is lessons about opera. At the suggestion of Wilf, Reg compares opera to rap music, in order to make it more accessible to his students to amazing results, since whereas in opera the performers sing about their impending death, rappers talk about it in rhyme.

News buzzes around that a new guest will be arriving that very day. The new guest turns out to be none other than Jean Horton, the missing soprano of the Rigoletto recording and Reg's former wife, who ended their relationship on very sour terms. Reg is furious at the arrival of Jean, because he had specifically requested that all new guests should be sanctioned by him, particularly Jean, whom he would have never admitted into the home.

Jean tries at first unfruitfully to mend things with Reg and in the ensuing conversations her infidelity arises as well as her past marriages but Reg comes to understand that all that is past. In the meantime, Wilf and Cissy convince Cedric that reuniting the Rigoletto quartet for the Verdi Gala shall bring all the necessary income to save the home. Enchanted with the idea they convince Reg first to yield his objections to perform with Jean again, however she is a different case, she has given up singing a long time ago and has decided never to utter a note again, because her career ended in rather uneasy terms because of the critiques.

Cissy takes the CD of their old recording to Jean to hear and inspire her to sing again, but Jean becomes violent and attacks Cissy, which only aggravates her already delicate senile condition. After recovery, Jean apologises and is finally convinced to sing in the quartet from Rigoletto, "Bella figlia dell'amore", after learning that Anne Langley shall be singing "Vissi d'arte" from Tosca, to which she answers "over my dead body". The group prepares for their performance and moments before their curtain call, Cissy is about to walk out the door, saying that she has to go back to her family (who are all already dead), but Jean manages to salvage the situation. During her conversation with Cissy, Jean comes to regret all the misdeeds she did to Reg and admits that she is still in love with him, which is overheard by Reg.

Just as the recital is about to start, the director of the home is amazed at the energy displayed by the guests of the home, for whom the idea to rehearse and play before an audience, brings life back to them, leading her to the conclusion that old age and art go together. As they are about to enter the stage, Reg asks Jean to marry him again.

Cast[edit]

Production[edit]

The story of Quartet is based at Beecham House, a retirement home for musicians. Hedsor House in Buckinghamshire was used as the location of Beecham House. Several scenes were filmed at St Nicholas' Church, Hedsor. Much of the supporting cast is made up of actual musical stars of the past, as illustrated by then-and-now photos during the closing credits.

Dustin Hoffman said Ronald Harwood was inspired by the 1984 documentary Tosca's Kiss[3] to write the original play on which the movie is based.[4]

Maggie Smith starred in another film called Quartet, in 1981.

Release[edit]

Star Tom Courtenay and director Dustin Hoffman in Paris at the film's French premiere, March 2013.

Quartet premiered at the 2012 Toronto International Film Festival on 9 September 2012. The 2012 Mill Valley Film Festival honoured director Hoffman with a tribute and a screening of the film on 9 October 2012.

Quartet received its Welsh premiere at Cardiff's Cineworld complex on Thursday 6 December 2012, in a charity event arranged by the Rotary Club of Blackwood, with proceeds donated to charities. The premiere was attended by the film's producer Finola Dwyer, who gave an interview on the making of the film.

Quartet was released on DVD and Blu-ray/DVD/digital on 6 May 2013 in the UK and on 18 June 2013 in the United States.[5]

Reception[edit]

Quartet received generally positive reviews from professional film critics. The review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes reported an 80% approval rating (certified fresh) based on 120 reviews,[6] while Metacritic gave a score of 64 out of 100 based on 36 reviews.[7]

Lisa Schwarzbaum of Entertainment Weekly gave the movie a B, writing, "This lulling inspirational fantasy/comedy in the key of The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel offers aging, cultured Englishfolk (and one randy Scot, played by Billy Connolly) living out their golden years in a beautifully maintained residence for retired musicians. Every vista suggests that this gracious oldies' home is situated down the road from Downton Abbey, and every scene insists that real physical or mental infirmity belongs in some other picture."[8]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Quartet". Box Office Mojo. 20 February 2013. 
  2. ^ Dustin Hoffman riles Sir Donald Sinden with his comments about new film Quartet
  3. ^ http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0086928/
  4. ^ "The Graham Norton Show". Series 12. Episode 9. 21 December 2012. Event occurs at 8:23. BBC. BBC one. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c8nBxdxtQ68.
  5. ^ http://www.bbc.co.uk/bbcfilms/film/quartet
  6. ^ "Quartet (2013)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 14 May 2013. 
  7. ^ "Quartet". Retrieved 14 May 2013. 
  8. ^ Schwarzbaum, Lisa (18 January 2013). "Quartet". Entertainment Weekly (New York: Time Inc.): 59. 

External links[edit]