6.81 h 38 min2013PG-13
At a home for retired opera singers, the annual concert to celebrate Verdi is disrupted by the arrival of Jean (Maggie Smith), an eternal diva and the former wife of one of the residents.
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Supporting actors
Pauline CollinsMichael Gambon
Christoph DanielMarc SchmidheinyDario SuterFinola DwyerStewart MackinnonChristian Baute
The Weinstein Company
PG-13 (Parents Strongly Cautioned)
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4.7 out of 5 stars

4351 global ratings

  1. 81% of reviews have 5 stars
  2. 11% of reviews have 4 stars
  3. 5% of reviews have 3 stars
  4. 2% of reviews have 2 stars
  5. 2% of reviews have 1 stars
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Top reviews from the United States

Sharon IschReviewed in the United States on February 15, 2013
5.0 out of 5 stars
Will you love it? Or hate it? There doesn't seem to be an in-between.
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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."
130 people found this helpful
D. J. LeedhamReviewed in the United States on February 16, 2021
5.0 out of 5 stars
Not your usual sentimental English costume drama
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We decided to buy a permanent hard copy because we know we'll want to watch this over many years. For us this one is a classic. The acting is English at its best. The Beecham house is real and they used some of its "guests" (retired professional performers) as extras and active participants. Everything about the production is professional in the best sense. It is a wonderful story and substantial rather than sentimental. It helps if you happen to love opera or classical music. But the underlying story is about mistakes made, the pain this causes, and redemption and love.
3 people found this helpful
Jay LaneReviewed in the United States on January 24, 2013
5.0 out of 5 stars
2012 Quartet, NOT Merchant Ivory!
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Here is a cast to die for, playing characters in a home for retired opera singers; they are preparing for their annual celebration of Verdi's birthday. But there is a "spanner (wrench) in the works" when a former diva arrives, in the person of Maggie Smith. Based on the play by Ronald Harwood and directed by first-timer Dustin Hoffman, this delicious PG-13 comedy bathes us in classical music, witty dialogue and a lovely setting. In fact the opening credits include some of the finest editing I've had the pleasure to enjoy in recent years. Kudos to Barney Pilling for the film editing; Ben Smith for the art direction; and Dustin Hoffman for respecting the music.

The world of opera is a relatively small one, so it is no surprise that a few of these divas and divos have a shared "history," and therein lies our tale.

Let's look at some of this wonderful cast:
* Maggie Smith ("Downton Abbey") is Jean, who always had at least 12 curtain calls but hasn't been in the spotlight for far too long!
* Michael Gambon ("Harry Potter") is Cedric, in charge of the star-studded gala, with a towering ego of his own.
* Billy Connolly ("Brave") is Wilf, proof positive that an old horn dog never quits sniffing around.
* Tom Courtenay ("Gambit") is Reggie, a kind, considerate fellow who is still nursing a broken heart.
* Pauline Collins ("You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger") is Cissy, the sweet busybody who can't think of one bad thing to say about anyone.

Just a couple of important tips: 1) If you have any hearing problems, either see this in a theater that features closed captions, or wait for the DVD with Amazon.com so you can turn on the subtitles. 2) Be sure to stay through the final credits because Mr Hoffman generously included the faces of many of the performers, along with a head shot of that same performer during his or her heyday. What a beautiful finale!

BTW: I just received my DVD from Amazon and it DOES have closed captions. Yippee!
378 people found this helpful
AnnieReviewed in the United States on December 29, 2014
5.0 out of 5 stars
You Are Never Too Old...
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After a day at work, I returned home to a glass of port, and fine chocolates, and biscotti. Some of the pleasures still left to me. I then repaired upstairs to watch my latest acquisition, Quartet, a film starring the incomparable Maggie Smith and a wholly stellar cast. The film is set in a home for retired musicians, all of whom are in various stages of the downhill. It was breathtaking in many ways. I watched as a caregiver for my mother who is failing in a spectacular way. I watched as a former musician—although I am told that musicians are never “former.” I watched as an aging woman, who still has considerable energy and who still seeks to live and be engaged in life in many ways—not unlike many of the characters in the film.

In the end, it was about second chances, even in older age. It was about continued love and continued celebration of God-given talents. And it was about compassion.

You are never too old to learn more about forgiveness, love, and compassion.
23 people found this helpful
PhredReviewed in the United States on July 24, 2013
5.0 out of 5 stars
Suddenly 5 stars are not enough.
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What will follow will be a sophisticated adult version of a 10-year-old squealing OMG I love this movie, with six L s and about 10 !'s

As I write this review there are 285 four and five star reviews two hundred of them five-star, 28 one or two star reviews and 48 straddling three stars. Several of the movie haters speak of technical problems with the DVD and perhaps should not be counted. You should be aware that some folks have had technical issues. Others who speak against the movie seem to be upset that the language is not uniformly dignified. I'm not sure what to say to that. The language seemed very authentic. One soul felt that the movie was to geriatric. I'm guessing they missed all of the advertisements and did not pay attention to the picture on the cover. One negative person sniffed that this movie did not deal authentically with aging issues. This is not an issues movie; Quartet is if anything a slice of life -it is just happens that the slice of life under discussion is very close to the end-of-life.

Director Dustin Hoffman has assembled one of those classic casts of British performers who are as at ease in supporting roles as in leading roles and know how to impart a quality depth to every performance. The philosophy on display here is that there are no small roles and small actors need not apply. While the performances and the script tends to favor classifying this is a comedy, the underlining theme is that these are people serious as death.

Quartet takes place in a retirement home for British musicians. Overall these are plush quarters but clearly assignments are made based on the reputation and status of the now retired artists. The story arc revolves around the long ago failed marriage between newly arriving Opera diva Jean Horton (Dame Maggie Smith) and equally diva -ish longer retired Reginald Pajet ( Tom Courtenay). Between them must be resolved first the issues that ended their marriage issues he has never gotten over. And second her loss of confidence in her singing ability so that she can participate in an upcoming fundraiser needed to keep the retirement home open. We can be almost confident how the story lines will be resolved but the brilliance in the writing is to keep us just enough unsure such that the dramatic tension holds through to the end.

The real story line in quartet and the reason why I will not shrugged it off as a light comedy is in the nature of the personalities involved. The most immediate fact is that these are old people very aware that they are losing all of their individual capabilities due to their advancing age. These people are very aware that death awaits them impatiently. Secondly these people are all artists used to performing at very high levels. All have had to make sacrifices in the name of their artistic skills and now they are facing the fact that they must now sacrifice their standings as artists. There is an old expression "nothing quite focuses the mind like the certainty that one is to die in the morning". A premise of quartet is that to the degree that these minds can focus; they are aware that time is against them. Consequently decisions that have been delayed for years have to be attended to rapidly and in such a manner as to leave them neither compromised nor dissatisfied with their decisions. Ultimately these are people who choose to enjoy the time that is left to them.

Besides a very well written story, a first class team of actors and one of those classic British Manor home film sets; Quartet is graced with the plethora of enjoyable small things. There is a 2 to 3 second image of a young girl in a white summer pinafore running across a green grass trailing a red shawl. It is visually breathtaking. There is a similar visual of Dame Maggie Smith in a simple, regal turquoise dress suit striding into the dining room which again speaks to what superb cameramen can achieve. Dir. Hoffman has filled the retirement home with real musicians. They are honored in the closing credits and they honor us with beautiful musical interludes throughout the movie.

Something else Dustin Hoffman gets correct is that faces do not have to be conventionally beautiful to be beautiful. If there is one thing that American movies tend to render boring it's conventionally beautiful faces. From beginning to end quartet is filled with faces that are not normally allowed in close-ups and the movie is better for this decision.

I am a huge fan of small-scale movies that do not require lots of flashing lights or loud noises or huge scale issues. Quartet is homage to art, to artistry and a movie that respects and therefore honors the elderly. This movie could have become maudlin or morose. It has more than a few cliches except that they are all used in creative and original ways. If you haven't figured it out yet I like this movie and I recommend it without hesitation.
6 people found this helpful
deseretReviewed in the United States on October 16, 2017
5.0 out of 5 stars
amazing. i had forgotten how much i loved opera
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amazing.i had forgotten how much i loved opera..ooh my!! i had the hairs on my arms raised up every time someone sang or played... the ending is wonderful..i was so scared something would happen as i really walk right into the movie as a guest of the hme..the stars, perfect credits pictures of before and after.perfect pitch.i so wish i would age as well and as graceful,kind and w courage as these darling people..u must watch it.
7 people found this helpful
Thomas OrmsbyReviewed in the United States on May 17, 2015
4.0 out of 5 stars
Quartet takes place in The Thomas Beecham Home for Retired ...
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Quartet takes place in The Thomas Beecham Home for Retired Musicians, a stately mansion in the English countryside, which is preparing for their annual fundraising gala to keep the home going. It is also a pleasure to see Tom Courtenay, whom I’ve seen only once or twice since his indelible performance as Strelnikov, the emerging Stalin-like figure of the Russian Revolution, as portrayed in David Lean’s Doctor Zhivago (1965).

Now, fifty years later, with only a slightly mellowed intensity, Courtenay plays a retired opera star who isn’t buying his ex-wife’s overtures when she arrives to live at Beecham Home. That would be Maggie Smith, whose cockeyed gaze is withering enough, even without a confrontation, but the tension between them is palpable. The remainder of this talented cast provides the humor, the music and the liveliness of this old folk’s home. These aging musicians can at times be off-key; but in other moments they are pitch-perfect.

I have to credit this entire production to the able hands of Director Dustin Hoffman, who is also executive producer. I first saw Hoffman being greatly influenced by British-based storylines while he was filming Last Chance Harvey in London with Emma Thompson in ’08.

Be sure to stick around for the credit roll, so you can see the authentic performing cast of this movie, which contains more musical value than almost all American high school curricula these days. But not to worry about the serious decline of teaching art and music in our schools -- football is being fully funded.
One person found this helpful
hearsmusicReviewed in the United States on December 10, 2020
5.0 out of 5 stars
Real Musicians
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I have watched this movie at least 10 times since I bought it. I am a retired musician, and they got it right. The desire to play or sing never leaves, nor does the ego that it takes for performances. The older you get the more you lose your edge and it is frustrating and heartbreaking. The produceres and directors of this movie got it right. At the end, when the four sing the quartet from Rigoletto, it is beyond fabulous. It's worth waiting the whole movie for that quartet. I love this movie!
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