Pauline Collins & Maggie Smith in a scene from Quartet

Pauline Collins & Maggie Smith in a scene from Quartet

With all the actors out there directing movies, it’s hard to believe that Quartet marks the directorial debut of Dustin Hoffman. Hoffman has directed a stellar cast of mostly older actors in this moving and very real story.

Maggie Smith stars as Jean Horton, a retired opera singer. The rest of the cast is noteworthy and memorable, but this movie belongs to Smith.  Jean is forced by circumstances to leave her home and enter Beecham House, a retirement home for performers. She is not happy to be there, especially since one of the residents is her former husband.

Jean and Reggie were half of a famous operatic quartet that performed a noted version of  Giuseppe Verdi’s Bella figlia dell’amore from Rigoletto. Each year the residents of Beecham House produce a concert in honor of Verdi’s birthday. Now, with the arrival of Jean Horton, they wish to perform this beautiful piece. For many reasons, Jean is reluctant to do this, and that is the central plot of Quartet.

Many of the actors in the film are retired stage performers. The viewer has the privilege of watching and listening to them do what they do best. Time has taken its toll, but they all are talented and accomplished.

There is some original music in this film, but most of the music is familiar operatic pieces. I was especially happy to see the closing credits included photos of some of the actors in their prime. Kudos to Dustin Hoffman and the entire cast of Quartet!



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