“An ebullient encore not only for its central foursome—Tom Courtenay, Pauline Collins, Billy Connolly and Maggie Smith—but also for the dis-tinguished musicians who comprise the rest of the ensemble, QUARTET shows retirement hasn’t diluted the drama one bit at a rest home for old stage-folk. Though never the sort of actor who “really wanted to direct,” Dustin Hoffman picked the right piece of material with which to make the leap, adapting Ronald Harwood’s 1999 play with the sort of thesp-friendly generosity that makes the performances really sing. This production celebrates the vitality of those whose time in the spotlight has passed, casting a handful of legends who are still going strong in their eighth decades. Old flames are rekindled when once-massively popular opera star Jean Horton (Smith), arrives at Beecham House, where ex-husband Reginald (Courtenay) had hoped to find “a dignified senility.” Though Jean’s arrival excites the other residents—apart from a Norma Desmond-like longtime rival (Gwyneth Jones)—it reopens deep wounds for Reginald, cuckolded a mere nine hours after his wedding. The specter of that betrayal haunts their reunion, though Smith and Courtenay are such gifted thesps, the damage and remorse they each feel emanates even when the characters are apart, tempered on both sides by seemingly unyielding walls of pride. With an assist from Dario Marianelli’s effusive score, Scottish comic Connolly supplies much of the pic’s charisma, playing Wilf, a singer whose recent stroke has eliminated the last of his inhibitions. Between Jean and Reginald’s long-simmering feelings and Wilf’s colorful antics, QUARTET offers a spirited portrait of souls who, when that final curtain-call comes, intend to go singing, dancing and swearing into that good night.”—Variety. PG-13. 95 Min.
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