Quartet is one of 2012's best movies. It wasn't screened for critics until recently, so it didn't make my 2012 best list. Quartet would have been my second favorite. Like its cousin The Exotic Marigold Hotel last year, Quartet features a great cast of old pro British actors, a wonderful story and a feel-good flavor that has you smiling throughout.
And it's brilliantly done.
Maggie Smith, who also shined in Marigold, Tom Courtenay, Billy Connolly and Pauline Collins star as singers relegated to what is essentially an old folks home for has-been musicians and singers.
At one time, they had a quartet that was one of the most popular in the world. Smith's Jean Horton married Courtenay's Reginald Paget and then dumped him. Then she ticked the bunch off when she went her own way.
With an almost unnatural ease, Smith, Courtenay, Connolly and Collins and others casually toss out lines ranging from acerbic to sincere. Clearly, they are enjoying the excellent script and each other's company.
Acting doesn't get any better, but the real star of Quartet is director Dustin Hoffman. Yes, that Dustin Hoffman. He does his first credited stint behind the camera. Hoffman directed Straight Time in 1978 but didn't get credit. After Quartet, he should never direct again.
Perfection like this cannot be repeated, and from here, everything is downhill.
Hoffman's movie is based on a Ronald Harwood (The Diving Bell and the Butterfly) play, and it plays like a play. Using shadows, light, odd ways of focusing, music, real-life musicians and singers, and incredible acting, Hoffman weaves together an exceptional movie experience. Young or old, do not miss this one.
Director: Dustin Hoffman
Stars: Maggie Smith, Tom Courtenay, Billy Connolly, Michael Gambon, Pauline Collins
Mr. Movie rating: 5 stars
Rated PG-13 for mature themes. It is playing at the Carmike 12.
5 stars to 4 1/2 stars: Must see on the big screen
4 stars to 3 1/2 stars: Good film, see it if it's your type of movie.
3 stars to 2 1/2 stars: Wait until it comes out on DVD.
2 stars to 1 star: Don't bother.
0 stars: Speaks for itself.