So, Maggie Smith arrives at Beecham House to the varying delight of former operatic colleagues Pauline Collins (comic ditherer), Billy Connelly (randy old goat), and Michael Gambon (nasty old queen), as well as the initial dismay of Tom Courtenay as the ex-husband whose heart she carelessly broke. Naturally, the joint is in danger of closure and can only be saved by the starry new arrival's participation in an annual charity performance. Yes, it's just like the plot of Roller Boogie (1979), and every other hoary "Let's put on a show to save the [blank]" exercise. You know just what's going to happen — "How dare you!" turns to "Oh, all right then" turns to triumph, although the film (like the play) cheats by declining to actually show us that triumph — and it does, on cue, for 98 digestion-easing minutes.
There's certainly nothing wrong with providing vehicles for beloved older actors — but why does it always have to be this kind of vehicle, bland as toast and no more nutritious? Even Dame Maggie Smith doesn't seem particularly interested; no doubt she'd like to play someone to whom the adjective "bitchy" doesn't apply once in a while. The classical canon is full of great roles for fully mature actors. But for the movies, it seems, after a certain point you only get to play silly old dears or bitter crones. There's got to be room for something between condescending trifles like Quartet and the bleak staring-death-in-the-face of Amour.
QUARTET opens Fri/25 in Bay Area theaters.
Most Commented On
- Not really, David, BART runs at up to 80mph. - May 22, 2013
- Sounds like you're the - May 22, 2013
- Buy it. - May 22, 2013
- Maybe it's faster cause it - May 22, 2013
- arrogant snit - May 22, 2013
- Means testing is already - May 22, 2013
- You the same 'SD musician' - May 22, 2013
- BART and MUNI fares - May 22, 2013
- Man, I wish I had written that. - May 22, 2013
- Nonsense, every wealthy enclave has cheaper area's around it. - May 22, 2013