I'm not sure if you have to be over the hill (as I am), to love this movie (as I did) about a home for retired musicians, but it certainly appears that way to me after coming home and reading A. O. Scott's middling New York Times review and its online reader responses, which seem to be either total disdain or absolute delight and nothing in between.
It probably helps to have a lifelong love of classical music, especially opera, with just a smidgen of Gilbert & Sullivan & vaudeville mixed in.
While, as expected, Maggie Smith, Pauline Collins, Tom Courtenay, Billy Connolly and Michael Gambon are superb in the leading roles, the supporting player-musicians, who also inhabit the beautiful, scenic Beecham House, some of whom are familiar faces but most of whom I'd never heard of, are a joy to behold as well. Please be sure to stay for the closing credits where you'll see headshots of each of them as they are now and as they were in a key role from their heydays.
No one sums it up better than Ann Hornaday in her rave review in the January 24, 2013 Washington Post: "Smoothly navigating the perilous line between insufferably twee and heartbreakingly grim, "Quartet" is a subtle, sure-footed delight -- made all the more enjoyable by the fact that it was directed by a 75-year-old first-timer named Dustin Hoffman. Judging from this debut, the kid's got a future."
RE THE DVD EXTRAS: There's a batch of short clips of the leading actors talking about the movie and what it was like to work with Hoffman. But my fave is Hoffman's commentary track. You get the impression of an old friend sitting alongside you with his feet up, filling you in on the story behind the creation of these scenes, how they found all those wonderful old musicians for the supporting roles, sharing anecdotes about the actors and production challenges, pointing out how much of what's on screen was in the script and how much (quite a lot) was improvised. (Example: Pauline Collins's request--which was granted--that she adapt and play her character as being in the early stages of dementia, modeled on her own real-life mother.) It's great fun to go back to the movie for another look with DH's insights and anecdotes and backgrounders in mind.
I'm thinking this DVD might make just the right double feature for "The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel."