In country England, the Beecham Home for Retired Musicians is in a quandary. The residents are all very happy and settled there, but the business isn’t going so well and without additional support funding it may need to close down. Of course, this is unthinkable for its occupants and they are treading the boards one more time to help raise some much needed funds to keep their home open. Reggie (played by Tom Courtenay) is a former opera star and he, along with his fellow ex-performers Wilf (by Billy Connolly) and Cissy (by Pauline Collins) hope to recapture the magic of their salad days together in the theatre. Rehearsals are progressing slowly but somehow they haven’t quite got it together … then a new resident arrives. Jean (by Maggie Smith), herself an accomplished opera diva, is reluctant to part from her independent life, but she moves into Beecham to try it out. In her heyday, she was a regular performer with Reggie (and also briefly married to him). These days, she has long recovered from the broken marriage, but he has not and her surprise arrival so unsettles him that it threatens to derail their entire performance.
What do do? … should the group press on with the critical concert even with Reggie being so upset? …. or should they give up on the show to support their friend, but wave farewell to their happy lives at Beecham?
This is a lovely and entertaining movie. With such a strong and experienced cast, it could scarcely go wrong. Remarkably, it is the directorial debut of Dustin Hoffman and he has made a great job of it. The residents are all unique individuals and for once, Maggie Smith’s character is not nearly as curmudgeonly as she is usually cast. Billy Connolly is as mischievous as ever as the wily Wilf, but for me the best in show is Pauline Collins who beautifully and sensitively plays Cissy who is gently succumbing to dementia and senility. Reggie has some wonderful interactions and in general all the relationships are portrayed beautifully – particularly those where the elderly and young are both involved. It is the adaptation of a play by Ronald Harwood called “Quartet” – and is very well done, Mr Hoffman.
Made in 2012. Directed by Dustin Hoffman