“QUARTET is a wickedly comic film about redefining old age and growing old with hope; demonstrating how art illuminates life and the human spirit remains undimmed even as the brightest stars start to fade.” BBC
A current film about aging that could be used for “movie therapy” is the enjoyable Quartet. The entire setting is Britain’s Beecham House, a retirement home for musicians. And not just any musicians—very accomplished ones.
Upon learning this up front while watching the movie, I had to wonder…what would it be like to be in a similar facility for aging therapists? Would such a thing even be desirable? How might I feel about that? I hear you asking how you might feel about that. Geez, just tell me! How would I feel about that?!?
Well, anyway…it’s based on a stage play by Ronald Harwood. Forthwith, the basics of Quartet per Roger Ebert:
The central drama involves the retired singer Reggie Paget (Tom Courtenay, who starred in “The Dresser” and “Doctor Zhivago” all those years ago, and even before that the powerful 1962 drama “The Loneliness of the Long-Distance Runner”). Settled and content, he is seeking a comfy senility in Beecham House, he says. Then another retired legend arrives. This is Jean Horton (Maggie Smith). We learn that she cheated on Reggie within hours of their marriage, and although he’s always been in love with her, he has never forgiven her.
Kyle Smith, New York Post: “‘Quartet’ isn’t a penetrating inquiry into aging. Who wants that? We all know the facts, so let’s not begrudge some fancy.”
Elizabeth Weitzman, New York Daily News: “Everyone onscreen is experienced enough to realize that we create our own fates, regardless of the directions in which we are pushed.”
Rex Reed, New York Observer: “In their most poignant exchange, Ms. Smith asks ‘Why did we have to get old?’ and Mr. Courtenay says, ‘That’s what people do.’ But few do it with such grace and dignity, in a film with so much affection, tenderness and charm.”