Quartet isn’t Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, not by a mile. But Dustin Hoffman’s directing debut is nevertheless a bittersweet, quirky, eversobritish, golden years tale where the great and good of Anglo thespery show their chops and impress upon us what a magnificent generation of performers they are.
Quartet is set in a raucous, seraphic retirement home for musical theatre folk. It tells of the painful reunion of Reg (Tom Courtenay) with the self-centred Jean Horton (Maggie Smith), the wife who betrayed him years (and years) ago, as they work towards a benefit concert for the survival of the home. (the perilous fiscal status of Blighty’s old-age care being a current cinematic meme) It’s very well-meaning, but not particularly mindblowing. Billy Connolly is great – and looks rather dashing without the curls.
Quartet filmed at the exquisite Hedsor House in Buckinghamshire. Completed in Italianate style in 1868, it’s part of an 85 acre park that overlooks the Thames and is available for weddings and stuff, should that be your wont. Incidentally, there actually IS such a place for retired musos, but it’s in Italy. Casa Verdi. So now you know.