Quartet (2012 film)

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Quartet
Quartet-Poster.jpg
Directed by Dustin Hoffman
Produced by
  • Finola Dwyer
  • Stewart Mackinnon
Screenplay by Ronald Harwood
Based on Quartet 
by Ronald Harwood
Starring
Music by Dario Marianelli
Cinematography John de Borman
Edited by Barney Pilling
Production
company
  • Headline Pictures
  • BBC Films
  • DCM Productions
  • Finola Dwyer Productions
Distributed by Momentum Pictures (United Kingdom) Entertainment One (United Kingdom home video) The Weinstein Company (United States)
Anchor Bay (United States home video)
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 time 98 minutes
Country United Kingdom
Language English
Budget $11,000,000
Box office $59,520,298[1]

Quartet is a 2012 British comedy-drama film based on the play Quartet 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 former professional musicians, patterned after the real-life Casa di Riposo per Musicisti founded by Giuseppe Verdi.

Reg, Wilf and Cissy are retired opera singers who often worked together in the past; among other residents are Cedric Livingstone, a former director, and diva Anne Langley. All the guests in the retirement home continue to be engaged in their former professions in one way or the other, including lecturing and initiating young people to music.

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. Reg, Wilf and Cissy, were in the cast of a very highly rated recording of the opera Rigoletto, which includes a famous quartet for soprano, mezzo-soprano, tenor, and baritone. This version is very prominent amongst opera buffs as THE Rigoletto of the post-war era.

One day, Reg is shocked to find his former wife Jean Horton, the missing soprano of the Rigoletto recording, turning up to live at Beecham House. Reg is angry not to have been warned as their parting was on very sour terms.

At first Jean tries unsuccessfully to mend things with Reg. 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 bringing together those who sang the quartet on the famous recording to sing it again for the Verdi Gala concert will sell enough tickets to save the home. Enchanted with the idea, they convince Reg to overcome his objections to performing with Jean again. However, she is harder to persuade as she vowed never to sing again after retiring.

Cissy takes Jean flowers from the garden to cheer her up and asks if she wishes to discuss the quartet, but Jean becomes violent and attacks Cissy, which only aggravates Cissy's already delicate senile condition. Jean apologises and is finally convinced to sing in the quartet from Rigoletto, "Bella figlia dell’amore", after learning that Anne Langley will be singing "Vissi d'arte" from Tosca. The group prepares for their performance and, moments before their curtain call, Cissy gets very confused and attempts to walk out the door, saying that she has to go back to her family, but Jean manages to salvage the situation. During her conversation with Cissy, Jean expresses regret for all her past bad behaviour towards Reg and admits that she is still in love with him. Reg overhears this.

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. The idea of rehearsing and playing 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, and once on stage she whispers her agreement.

Cast[edit]

Production[edit]

Headline Pictures' Mark Shivas and Stewart Mackinnon acquired the film rights to the play from Ronnie Harwood and with funding from BBC Films commissioned him to write the screenplay. Mackinnon then approached a number of co-producers and directors, and eventually contracted the producer Finola Dwyer and director Dustin Hoffman. Sadly, Mark Shivas died before the film was completed.

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 79% approval rating (certified fresh) based on 135 reviews,[6] while Metacritic gave a score of 64 out of 100 based on 36 reviews, indicating "generally favorable 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. ^ Tosca's Kiss (1984) at the Internet Movie Database
  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. ^ Quartet, BBC Films
  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]