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Quartet, an enchanting comedy with music

The Beecham House – named in honor of the British conductor Thomas Beecham – is in effervescence. Residents, retired former musicians and singers, prepare the annual gala, perhaps the last, which profit will help keep the house open. Among them, Reggie, Wilf and Cissy, opera singers who formed a quartet in their youth with Jean another famous singer legendary… And here she arrives, one day. She is constantly inhabited by the shame of not being at the height of her art, as in in her glorious days. If Reggie, Jean’s ex-husband Jean, can’t stand this proud artist, it is because he is convinced she had betrayed him. Nevertheless, as the nursing home keeps on declining, his two accomplices decide to convince Jean to sing with them at the gala quartet « Bella figlia dell’amore » from Rigoletto by Verdi …

For his first movie behind the camera, Dustin Hoffman chose an adaptation of the eponymous play by Ronald Harwood (also screenwriter of the Pianist by Roman Polanski) illustrated by beautiful music to the delight of music lovers.

From the first images, we hear excerpts from La Traviata (Libiamo ne’lieti calici, fantasy for clarinet) and Rigoletto (La donna è mobile), and throughout the movie, The Swan (Saint-Saëns) A Sylvia (Schubert), Toccata and Fugue in D minor (JS Bach) Minuet from Quintet in D major (Boccherini) Minuet from Symphony No. 100 « Military » and the Quartet « Sunrise » in B flat major (Haydn) … but also Czardas by , and especially excerpts from the so British operetta The Mikado by Gilbert and Sullivan: « Titwillow », « Flowers That Bloom in the Spring », « So, please you sir, we much regret « , » Three little maids from school.  » When Jean took possession of her room, she plays an old 33 rpm Decca to listen to Verdi arias. All these music brought together with beautiful images are another highlight of the movie.

The moving simplicity of the screenplay favors the magnificent performance of the actors playing the lead roles. Also delightful for music lover is the presence as residents of Beecham House of real retired musicians: former members of British orchestras and singers took their old scores to play for real – the credits give their names with their pictures and title during their career. One little low light is to have taken the voice of Pavarotti for the final scene when the lobby of the nursing home is transformed into a concert hall. The voice of Pavarotti so recognizable that one tend to focus on this voice and forget the story…

At 75 years, at an age when he could be a resident of the Beecham House, Dustin Hoffman is kindly considering the time of old age while paying tribute to the music. A beautiful film that all music lovers should run to watch in theaters.