Film review: Quartet

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 going.

Director: Dustin Hoffman
Cast: Maggie Smith, Billy Connolly, Pauline Collins, Tom Courtenay, Michael Gambon
Rating: (M)
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 triumph together.

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.