Quartet Movie Poster Image

Quartet

Charming comedy about elderly opera singers fine for teens.
  • Rated: PG-13
  • Genre: Comedy
  • Release Year: 2013
  • Running Time: 95 minutes

What parents need to know

Positive messages

Not only will Quartet expose younger audiences to a musical style they might not be familiar with (opera/classical), but it will also make viewers of all ages think about what it must be like for renowned talents to age and for people to be passionate about the music they love. There are also themes of redemption, forgiveness, and true friendship. 

Positive role models

Wilf, Reggie, and Cissy are all fabulous friends who are unconditionally devoted to each other. Dr. Cogan seems to genuinely love her job, and she doesn't treat the seniors in her care as "charges" or "burdens." She's respectful to everyone and even lets Wilf's advances down amiably, not with any rancor or disgust. Jean shows how someone can ask for and receive forgiveness for past wrongdoings and move past their own narcissism to do what's best for someone else.

Violence

Jean throws flowers and pushes Cissy, who subsequently falls and injures herself. An elderly man is shown being wheeled out on a stretcher.

Sex

Wilf -- who's called a "naughty, naughty man" -- makes suggestive comments about the Beecham House's female staff members, particularly the beautiful head doctor. He jokes about an older man being like aged wine and "seasoned wood." Other sexual jokes are made using musical terminology. Two young staffers are caught in the woods, presumably fooling around, but when they surface, all disheveled, they claim they "weren't doing anything."

Language

Two notable uses of "f--k." Other swear words include: "bitch," "twat," "t-ts," "sodding," "arse," "hell," "damn it, "bloody," "oh my God," and "for God's sake."

Consumerism
Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

The "quartet" goes out to dinner and has a lot of wine to drink.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Quartet focuses on a retirement home for former opera singers and other professional musicians. With its older characters and mature themes, the movie isn't that likely to appeal to younger audiences, but if they're willing, there's nothing really inappropriate in it, save for a couple of uses of "f--k" and some suggestive humor (though no actual kissing or sex). A great choice for grandparents, parents, and teens to watch together, Quartet explores mature issues such as aging, fading talent, seeking forgiveness, and the importance of being passionate about the arts.

What's the story?

The Beecham House for Retired Musicians in the English countryside is a gorgeous manse filled with former opera singers, composers, and other professional musicians. Every year, the home hosts a fundraising gala in tribute to Italian composer Verdi. But this time, as preparations are underway, the residents are abuzz with news that a new diva is moving in. "Who could it be?" wonder distinguished Reggie (Tom Courtenay), randy Wilf (Billy Connolly), and sweet-but-senile Cissy (Pauline Collins). The answer is Jean Horton (Maggie Smith), the Maria Callas of England, who was once married to -- but quickly left -- a still-hurt Reggie. And after Jean's arrival, the gala's imperious director, Cedric (Michael Gambon), wants Cissy and Wilf to convince Reggie and Jean to reconcile long enough to perform their signature QUARTET from Verdi's Rigoletto.

Is it any good?

QUALITY

Director Dustin Hoffman does a good job of highlighting the many charms and talents of his esteemed cast, from Dame Maggie down to the various supporting actors who really are retired musicians. The plot is simpler than the sleeper hit dramedy The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, but some of the themes are the same: Aging adults still want to feel vibrant and have much to contribute -- in this case, their literal voices. That said, the script doesn't delve too far into Reggie and Jean's past relationship, nor does it explore some of the heavier questions about the characters' medical problems, their lack of visitors, or the circumstances leading up to their stay in an assisted living home. 

But the movie's light, nostalgic tone is fine; not everyone wants to see older actors in films as heart wrenching as Amour. As the youngest member of the ensemble, Connolly gets to be the flirtatious retiree who harmlessly comes on to the attractive doctor and her staff. Known for his blue material, the Scottish comedian tones it down with playful one-liners and music-themed double entendres. Gambon, who's costumed like a Muggle version of Dumbledore, is hilarious as the demanding Cedric, and Courtenay is excellent as Jean's jilted ex. If only all retirement homes really were this beautiful and filled with joyful septuagenarians.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about how Quartet depicts retired artists. Why does Jean say it would be a dishonor to her former self to sing again? Do you think older musicians should stop performing just because their voices might not sound the same or they can't hit high notes the same way?

  • Reggie has an educational conversation about opera being similar to rap; what is the filmmaker trying to say about various musical styles?

  • Why are there so few movies and TV shows that feature older characters? Teens: Does a movie's appeal to you depend on the age of its cast/characters? Why?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:January 11, 2013
DVD/Streaming release date:June 18, 2013
Cast:Billy Connolly, Maggie Smith, Tom Courtenay
Director:Dustin Hoffman
Studio:Weinstein Co.
Genre:Comedy
Topics:Friendship, Music and sing-along
Run time:95 minutes
MPAA rating:PG-13
MPAA explanation:brief strong language and suggestive humor

This review of Quartet was written by

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are conducted by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

About these links

Common Sense Media, a nonprofit organization, earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes when you use our links to make a purchase. Thank you for your support.

Read more

Great handpicked alternatives

What parents and kids say

See all user reviews

Share your thoughts with other parents and kids Write a user review

A safe community is important to us. Please observe our guidelines

Parent Written bynimswa April 8, 2013

For over 50.

The language was disappointing. I'm so tired of F bombs in movies, even said only once. I loved the concept of a retirement home for musicians. I did wish the end showed the quartet actually singing.
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Parent Written byParrot10 January 24, 2013

Disappointing and forgettable

My wife and I found this film disappointing and forgettable. I would not take my grandchildren of any age to see this film - it was embarrassing. The acting of the key characters was good and redeemed the film slightly but the script let them down. Although classified as comedy it was not funny, the story line was weak, and there was no depth to the characters; the humour was often crude and bawdy, e.g. an elderly man peeing into trees and bushes on several occasions, and the jokes were often sexually suggestive or vulgar. The "f***" word was used very loudly and unnecessarily on 2 occasions. Apart from the age of the characters it shares nothing in common with 'The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel' which we enjoyed immensely and was all that this film sadly is not.
What other families should know
Too much swearing
Teen, 13 years old Written bypauly123 July 19, 2013

Boring movie that will not satisfy teens

This movie is nice, but I'm not sure teens will like it because its plot is pretty boring, compared to other movies. It also has strong language in it and it's pretty ridicoulous because elderly people don't swear. I wanted to see it because it's a story about opera singers and I am fan of opera music but I found myself sleeping on the couch. p.s.: If you want to see a movie about elderly people, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel is better than this. It contains more action, more YOUNG people and its plot is in India. The only good thing about Quartet was that it had good classical music in it.
What other families should know
Great role models
Too much swearing