Acting is a hard gig. Everyone wants you when you are
young and sexy, but as the wrinkles start the roles dry up. Yet
for a lucky few, age does not wither them, they just keep on
Director: Dustin Hoffman
Cast: Maggie Smith, Billy Connolly, Pauline Collins,
Tom Courtenay, Michael Gambon
3 stars (out of 5)
They played angry young men and women in the '60s and now
they have gained a third wind playing dirty old men, acerbic
grandmothers and all the variations between.
Dame Maggie Smith has been a star since she played the lead
in The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie in 1969, yet she has
probably never been more famous since doing the Harry Potter
movies and Downton Abby. In Quartet (Rialto) she plays Jean
Horton, a great opera diva who is forced into a retirement
home by failing health.
Beecham House caters for retired musicians and the place
overflows with people keeping up their skills. Jean sees that
as a mistake. Once you can no longer perform at your best you
should give it up is her belief.
Things are complicated by three other residents with whom she
once played an acclaimed Rigoletto quartet. They still get
joy from performing and want her to revisit their great
There are no prizes for guessing what course Jean ultimately
takes, but by the end you are surprised by just how much you
enjoyed the journey.
Best thing: Just look at the rest of the cast. How can
you not want to see it?
Worst thing: At times, Quartet comes across as High
School Musical for seniors but with better music.
See it with: Your Gold Card tucked safely somewhere,
those senior discounts add up you know.
By Christine Powley.