Pauls Valley, Oklahoma — While the individuals I’ve come across in recent years may not be able to tell on the surface, beneath this goofy and energetic personality is a dude who occasionally enjoys the soothing lilt of classical music. Steady your heart rock and rollers, for my background even includes the experience of playing not only old school European jams on the piano, but also the cello where I played at times with a full high school symphony.
As a result I’m totally down with my bad self and a copy of a movie where similar music is a central theme with today’s said experience featuring a very fly concept involving a retirement home for those with the utmost in mad skills. Thankfully, the result was not something where I wanted to drown myself in their pureed prunes, instead causing me to wish such a fantastic place could be waiting for me if I ever were unable to take care of myself, but still belt out some Beethoven or Bach. “Quartet” may seem very artsy for those not familiar in any way with the world featured, though if one relaxes and lets the experience take control, it is a generously witty tale worth inspiring another chance for anyone who may have felt their dreams too far gone to achieve.
Set at the previously alluded to Beecham House, one tidbit that makes this film so personal is how many members of the supporting cast were characters based on actual famous musicians. The core cast is led by Reginald Paget (Tom Courtenay), Wilfred Bond (Billy Connolly) and Cecily Robson (Pauline Collins); all former opera singers who either teach or still engage in their craft and as they struggle with the maladies of age throughout, you begin to cheer for that one last hurrah they so desperately seek.
Though they put on a good front despite it, hanging on the back of everyone’s mind is what to do to keep the home open as it desperately needs financial support and it seems that it may come down to a grand night of performances led by former famous director Cedric Livingstone (Michael Gambon). The catch is it may open old wounds for Reginald, who is sent into a state of near shock when his ex-wife Jean Horton (Maggie Smith) has not only come to live at the home, but may be the remaining key for said performance to be a big enough hit. As a result of a long ago bitter divorce, there is the expected feud that follows, but also plenty of healing and strengthening of character and a ton of dirty old man humor for good measure by Wilfred.
It’s sadly a flick that seems to have been buried in last year’s glut of immensely enjoyable selections and perhaps even another that might have carried some weight at awards shows in meagerly populated year. In any case, it was a joy to pick up for rental and even a recommendation to own for those who also find as much pleasure in this type of thing.
About the only thing lacking would have been actually seeing the lead opera singers do some actual singing, but alas we just have to pretend these guys are as good as advertised. In any case, the acting is superb with a strong enough script and content suited best for later teenage years or adults. In the end, it’s worth a final verdict of four out five measures for “Quartet.”
DVD rental courtesy of Family Video of Pauls Valley.