Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...
How Do You Solve a Problem Like Erika? Universal Hires Husband to Write 'Fifty Shades Darker' How Do You Solve a Problem Like Erika? Universal Hires Husband to Write 'Fifty Shades Darker' 'Age of Ultron' Director Joss Whedon on Self-Doubt and Why It's His 'Rio Bravo' 'Age of Ultron' Director Joss Whedon on Self-Doubt and Why It's His 'Rio Bravo' Watch: Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Tina Fey, Patricia Arquette and Amy Schumer Hilariously Slam Hollywood Sexism (NSFW) Watch: Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Tina Fey, Patricia Arquette and Amy Schumer Hilariously Slam Hollywood Sexism (NSFW) CinemaCon: How Tom Cruise Stole the Paramount Show CinemaCon: How Tom Cruise Stole the Paramount Show Meet the Director of 'Tangerines,' the 2015 Dark Horse Oscar Nominee You Missed (Exclusive Video) Meet the Director of 'Tangerines,' the 2015 Dark Horse Oscar Nominee You Missed (Exclusive Video) LA Film Fest Unveils Horror Slate, More World Premieres, Zoe Cassavetes Film LA Film Fest Unveils Horror Slate, More World Premieres, Zoe Cassavetes Film Cannes: Directors' Fortnight Lines Up Vet Auteurs and American Indies Cannes: Directors' Fortnight Lines Up Vet Auteurs and American Indies Joe Wright's 'Pan' Gets Fall Release Date: Good News or Bad News? Joe Wright's 'Pan' Gets Fall Release Date: Good News or Bad News? Seeing Ryan Gosling's 'Lost River' Through Composer Johnny Jewel's Eyes (STREAM SOUNDTRACK) Seeing Ryan Gosling's 'Lost River' Through Composer Johnny Jewel's Eyes (STREAM SOUNDTRACK) 3 Women Genre Directors Get SF Film Society Fellowships 3 Women Genre Directors Get SF Film Society Fellowships Here's Why Jon Stewart Quit 'The Daily Show' Here's Why Jon Stewart Quit 'The Daily Show' Watch: From Tarantino to Cronenberg, Great Directors Talk the Art and Anxiety of Filmmaking Watch: From Tarantino to Cronenberg, Great Directors Talk the Art and Anxiety of Filmmaking Specialty Box Office: 'True Story' and 'Child 44' Flop as 'Ex Machina' Lures Audiences Specialty Box Office: 'True Story' and 'Child 44' Flop as 'Ex Machina' Lures Audiences Tribeca Film Festival Matches George Lucas with Stephen Colbert: “I’m gonna tear you a new one, George" Tribeca Film Festival Matches George Lucas with Stephen Colbert: “I’m gonna tear you a new one, George" 10 Films Booed at Cannes That Every Cinephile Should See 10 Films Booed at Cannes That Every Cinephile Should See 5 Things You Didn't Know About Lars von Trier, Who's Going Back to Work 5 Things You Didn't Know About Lars von Trier, Who's Going Back to Work The Eerie Connection Between 'Star Wars: The Force Awakens' and 'Tomorrowland' The Eerie Connection Between 'Star Wars: The Force Awakens' and 'Tomorrowland' Digging Into the Cannes Lineup: More Vet Auteurs and Women, No Netflix Digging Into the Cannes Lineup: More Vet Auteurs and Women, No Netflix You Can Now Read Over 200,000 Leaked Sony Emails and Documents You Can Now Read Over 200,000 Leaked Sony Emails and Documents 7 Things to Learn from 'Mad Men' Creator Matthew Weiner About Compelling Storytelling (EXCLUSIVE VIDEO) 7 Things to Learn from 'Mad Men' Creator Matthew Weiner About Compelling Storytelling (EXCLUSIVE VIDEO)

NOFF Review: Weinstein Oscar-Fodder 'Quartet' Stars Maggie Smith

Photo of Matt Brennan By Matt Brennan | Thompson on Hollywood! October 15, 2012 at 4:27PM

Like "The King's Speech," "Quartet" is musty and middlebrow, set in an imagined Britain of high class and low jokes. What it lacks in period pedigree it makes up for in a steady diet of quips from the form's reigning dowager, Maggie Smith. In The Weinstein Company's hands, it will likely earn solid box office and awards attention.
0
Billy Connolly, Maggie Smith and Dustin Hoffman at TIFF
Billy Connolly, Maggie Smith and Dustin Hoffman at TIFF

Only Maggie Smith, as a haughty and very much unloved opera legend, is able to break from the grasp of this sustained pleasantness, channeling the sharp-tongued misanthropy of her role on "Downton Abbey" from the first. Given her long career, recent resurgence, and the film's placidly "tasteful" sensibility, I can't help but think that her performance will lead to an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actress. She curses, sneers, and comes around, even intimating the film's underlying, mostly unacknowledged sadness. In an otherwise airless movie, Smith barrels through like a gust of wind.

If, for about 90 of its 94 minutes, "Quartet" managed to make mundane its notions of love, death, and bitterness — a pill easily swallowed, but a pill without punch — I was almost surely alone in this assessment. The matinee crowd at the New Orleans Film Festival, mainly of the age group that turned "The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel" into one of the year's surprise hits, gave it a hearty endorsement of laughs and applause. "Quartet" is an effective piece of safety-valve cinema, careful never to let its emotions run too hot or cold, and for that it seems to have been all the more popular with the audience.

The other four minutes, unaccountably, left me terribly moved. Like "The King's Speech," "Quartet" builds to a rousing, heartfelt ending — I'm slightly embarrassed to admit that even the end credits had me welling up — that nearly, but not quite, erases the memory of what's come prior. "What happened to forgive and forget?" Smith's character asks her estranged ex-husband midway through the film. A good lesson for life, perhaps, but not wise advice for the movies.

The U.S. theatrical release of "Quartet" is set for December 28.

This article is related to: Reviews, Festivals, Headliners, Awards, Genres, comedy, Drama


E-Mail Updates