March 8, 2013 — Here’s Dustin Hoffman’s recipe for a directorial debut: sign Maggie Smith to play a lead role, stock the cast with charismatic, retired opera singers and musicians, and shoot on location in bucolic Buckinghamshire, England. The result is Quartet, a film that is by turns comic, touching, melancholy, and irreverent.
Friends and former opera colleagues Reginald, Wilf, and Cissy live happily at Beecham House, a retirement home for musicians. Enter a new resident, opera singer Jean (Maggie Smith)—a feisty soprano who shattered Reg’s heart years ago and who has sworn off singing so no one will hear her aging voice. When the four are asked to perform a quartet from Rigoletto at a fundraiser gala, they must deal with each other’s egos and quirks as they navigate the uncertain terrain of advancing years and past regrets. This film is a charming, affirming tribute to friendship, forbearance, and life’s “third act.” (Weinstein)