The screen adaptation of Ronald Harwood’s stage play Quartet is a quirky yet touching depiction of the lives of former opera stars grappling with their personal and professional pasts, as well as – in one case – approaching a senile future.
In its own way – there are some crafting issues which do jar a little in places – Dustin Hoffman’s directorial debut succeeds in bringing the audience in touch with the realities of the music world, one in particular most of us overlook: those responsible for our own formative musical experiences are themselves getting old. And of those who don’t have a family or money to cushion them in their old age, some end up in homes like the fictional Beecham House for Retired Musicians.
An horrific situation for a professional musician. You spend your teenage years and early twenty-years handling the competitive atmosphere dripping from the walls of music college, only to find yourself having to handle similar pressures in your professional life. The critics are constantly yapping at your ankles and then there’s the ever-increasing possibility that the very tool your career is dependent on is in danger of letting you down. And after that? You find yourself back in close proximity with the very same kind of people, if not the very same individuals.