There is a sense of reverence, respect, and charm to this movie, a feeling that age and accomplishments should be remembered and celebrated. In this, his directorial debut, Dustin Hoffman has gathered a number of actors and other artists – including musicians and singers – and brought them together on stage for a curtain call. There’s a story here, but it’s gratuitous at best, maybe even a bit contrived, essentially not important. What’s important is that the characters here are endearing, the actors who play them are enduring, their situations seem real.
And while the result seems somewhat effortless, the movie feels a bit narrowly focused: if you don’t love opera and/or are not well into retirement age, you won’t find much here. When I saw this on a Wednesday night, the theatre was about a quarter full with those who met the requirements above. As they were leaving, some couples were discussing their need to go to the restroom; when they found it was upstairs, they decided to “…wait…” While there may be a tendency to compare this to ‘The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel’ – they both have aging British stars in a home for the aging – the movies are very different in tone, plot, and pace. ‘Quartet’ is quieter, not as broadly entertaining, with less to say and much less to show. So, is this a movie worth seeing? Depends on how old you are – and the older the better.