Dustin Hoffman’s directorial debut is a finely-crafted, comedic meditation on the process of aging and the redemptive power of art

Image of Quartet

Showing @ Filmhouse, Edinburgh until Mon 28 Jan

Dustin Hoffman / UK / 2012 / 98 min

The success of  such recent films as The King’s Speech and The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel has proven the power of the “grey pound”. With credits that read like a role call of British cinema’s elder  statesmen and women, a quirky retirement home setting, lashings of opera and classical music, and a bittersweet romantic comedy at its heart Quartet seems guaranteed to continue that trend.

Adapted from Ronald Harwood’s play, Quartet is Dustin Hoffman’s directorial debut and features the likes of Billy Connolly, Maggie Smith, Tom Courtenay and Michael Gambon as the eccentric residents of Beecham House, a home for elderly musicians. Preparations are underway for the staging of their annual gala fundraiser when the surprise arrival of a faded diva brings buried heartaches and old rivalries to the surface.

Quartet features predictably strong performances, rapid fire comic dialogue, gorgeous visuals and a gentle message about the healing power of art. Its only fault in fact is that it seems a little too polished. Long-buried grievances are easily resolved, threats of illness and mortality require only a fleeting moment of consideration and emotional depth is often sacrificed in favour of innuendo. A winning formula perhaps, but not necessarily a memorable one.