A tale of old dogs learning new tricks from a veteran Hollywood icon who, at 75, has finally popped his directing cherry, Quartet (12A) is a gentle comedy drama for folks of a certain age. Although I’m thirty years or more from those pasture days myself, the appeal of something sweet, cosy and amusing is easily apparent. Switching expectations to ‘nice’ and settling down for something comforting makes a welcome change of pace, and it’s only right that older parents, grandparents, great-grandparents and mummies are catered to in movies today.
Although you might have expected Dustin Hoffman’s directorial debut to be a sharper, edgier affair, when you consider the actor’s rampant Anglophilia, quick wits and easy charm, it’s not really so surprising that Quartet details the never-too-late adventures of aged opera folk in a countrified English retirement home. And very pleasant it is too.
A good-natured and jovial confection full of familiar faces, Quartet follows the efforts of three formerly glorious singers, played to the hilt by Tom Courtenay, Pauline Collins and Billy Connolly, to induct eternal diva Maggie Smith into their ranks. With Verdi’s birthday fast approaching, they’ve a concert to prepare for, and four is the magic number.
Regardless of the fact that the movie builds to an event that it ultimately deems not to share with us, I rather enjoyed this easy film. I didn’t love it. It’s neither rip-roaring nor particularly fresh. But as crusty fun goes, there’s much to enjoy here. A veteran cast enjoying one another. A pleasing setting that’s easy on the eye. A mellifluous soundtrack of sparky classical faves to tap your toe to. And a general air of joie de vivre that’ll quickly put a smile on your face and keep it there throughout.
Although the title suggests a behind-the-scenes documentary in which Adam Sandler makes a watchable film, The Impossible (12A) is, in reality, a powerful, affecting and guiltily entertaining true account of one family’s struggle to survive and reconnect in the wake of 2004’s devastating Thai tsunami. Ewan McGregor and Naomi Watts play the holidaying parents who never give up or surrender to the mayhem of one of the worst natural catastrophes of our time. Potently made and played, it’s anything but a disaster.