AFI Festival: Shifting from acting shoes to directing shoes, Dustin Hoffman makes his directing debut with Quartet (2012), starring Maggie Smith, Tom Courtenay, Billy Connolly, Pauline Collins, and Michael Gambon. Quartet is a touching comedy about the lives of retired opera singers, musicians, and the like, living in a retirement home and reuniting with old friends. Their day-to-day lives vary from each others, though holds a comforting similarity that is quite comedic. To save their retirement home from going under, the occupants hold an annual gala, where they display their talents for donations. Due to the arrival of Jean Horton (Maggie Smith), the original quartet is reunited and the idea to perform together is something Jean doesn’t like. In the end, the past proves to be the link to their future of happiness.
The cast’s performance was brilliant. Filled with liveliness and the woes of aging, the film proved that there is still a lot of growth that can happen when retired. Though thoroughly worn from the days of performing and living life up until that point, each character in this all-star ensemble adds their own personality to their characters, which gives the film a feeling of authenticity and tangibility. Dealing with issues of the modern world, each character deals with aging in their own ways and supports each other when old age bites them. But, with friends and family around them, each character in the story helps along the feeling of normalcy and a comfortable acceptance that is still sought after.
Musically, this film is classically sound. Filled with music that everyone recognizes, the bright and vibrant colors, clean and organized production design, and wardrobe are consistent throughout the film. The production design gives each room character and each character room, but also reflects on their personalities and how they feel they deserve to be treated in the hierarchy within the retirement homes. Their wardrobe is very English, which helps the audience sink into the mentality of where they are and how far removed from society they want to be. The shots are thorough and easy, only emphasizing what is necessary and not over-emphasizing the frivolous. Altogether, with the ensemble of actors, the film is special in that it incorporates English and American humor together to create a fusion of sorts, appealing to all viewers.
Tags: Billy Connolly, Dustin Hoffman, Entertainment, film festival, Jean Horton, Maggie Smith, Michael Gambon, Pauline Collins, Quartet, Tom Courtenay