By Paul Goldfinger, Editor @Blogfinger.net
There is a wonderful scene in the movie “Quartet” when a retired professional opera singer is speaking to a class of teenagers. He listens intently as a black student recites his heartfelt rap lyrics. They were sharing a moment of understanding through music. How beautiful is that?
This movie is soooo good because it has it all: a gorgeous setting, great acting, soul stirring music, an intelligent and funny script, a richness of emotional effect, and lush, splendid cinematography.
It takes place at a lovely estate in England where a group of aging professional classical musicians and opera singers live. These people form a community and embrace their lives there, despite their ages, and find joy in their music and in their relationships with each other.
The music is part of the story rather than an almost invisible mist that floats in the background, enveloping everything, like most movie soundtracks do. These musical moments enrich the movie as they appear in delicate doses throughout the film . The finale is predictable, but the way it is done is just wonderful.
In another scene, a young female pianist, just a girl, is playing a recital before the artists who live there and who are enthralled with her performance. As she plays a fairly easy piece, an elderly clarinetist moves next to her and joins in. The two of them form a magical duo, and the audio-visual of them creating beautiful music together—all of it regardless of age—was so touching I can’t even begin to explain the emotional impact.
The four stars of the show are preparing to perform the quartet from Verdi’s Rigoletto at the annual gala. The actress Maggie Smith seems to be everywhere these days: from Downton Abbey, to the movie The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel to Quartet. Her acting, her wonderful humor, and her elegant beauty add a special excellence to an already fine cast.
There is a love story, hope for the future, and brilliant direction by an American –Dustan Hoffman—of all these English actors and their English sensibilities and, yes, it is a comedy.
Go see this film and prepare to cry a few times—not out of sadness, but out of the feeling that we human beings have so much goodness to celebrate in life, even when we become old.
This is a fine cello solo from the film called “Le Cygne” (The Swan) by Saint Saens:
And this is a vaudeville style performance by two old song and dance men: