Quartet: A movie Meme would have loved

My late grandmother, Meme, never let her age get in the way of living, because she knew as long as you had passion in your life, a young heart would never die.   She would fit right in with the old rebels in this heartwarming story, where old bodies run away from the horrors of old age and find comfort in the grace of the production of musical harmony.

Dustin Hoffman makes his directorial debut with Quartet, a movie that warms the heart right up in the cold bone of winter with this spicy concoction of drama, comedy and musicianship.  A celebration of the soul and a reminder that age is only a number with a measure of stock that depends on our own choices.  This film is a delight to take part in and is goodwill ambassador for elderly people who feel like their youthful abilities have departed.

Hoffman uses every storytelling trick and character nuance to tell this story, pulling his own storied career and 75 years of age.  If music is good for the soul, Hoffman needs to make more movies because this sweet British comedy with a smart dose of drama is easy on the eyes and mind.  A cinematic exercise with a “less is more” flavor containing real comedic moments and a tender love story, Quartet goes down smoother than most movies.   The laughs keep coming from the supremely gifted character actor Billy Connolly, playing a dirty old charmer who is soaking up every last moment.  Oscar winners Tom Courtney and Maggie Smith are the old lovers who are struggling to connect the pain of the past to the predicament of the present.

Hoffman spices up every frame of the film with real life opera singers/theater performers playing beautifully themed musical numbers but doesn’t shy away from character development and putting together a resolution.  We are all with Connolly when he tells the reclusive former star Smith, “Just fucking do it”, referring to the annual concert performed by the famous quartet and other residents that brings funds to the homes.   Hoffman makes the most of his 98 minutes(which digests like a smooth glass of Syrah), working from a script by Ronald Harwood(who adapted it from his play) and  each creator invests the characters with rich history.   Everybody used to do something and is struggling to find that particular note before they reach the end.

The Weinstein Company

Quartet isn’t just about four opera singers rescuing themselves and their home with a performance.  It’s about tired old wised up souls clinging to their young hearts and making the best of old age.   Full of superb acting, rendering the actors as convincing souls, you find yourselves rooting for their survival.  When the final performance calls the quartet to the stage, it would be hard for even the coldest cynic to keep a dry eye.  This movie inspires a 30 year old like myself to fear not when it comes to the twilight years.  Passion can take one a long way, especially if someone is playing a tune.  Quartet is the first great movie of 2013.

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