A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What 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.
Review #27 - This is my first review in a long time. It's fine for mature pre-teens, but will bore them to death.
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?
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.
Talk to your kids 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?
- In theaters: January 11, 2013
- On DVD or streaming: 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
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.