Old friends seek harmony

Old friends seek harmony

Old friends Wilf (Billy Connolly), Reggie (Tom Courtenay) and Cissy (Pauline Collins) once sang in an acclaimed opera quartet and now live at Beecham House, probably the world's cosiest retirement home for former musical stars.

But the arrival of Jean Horton (Maggie Smith) shakes up their routine. Jean, once a celebrated soprano, was not only the most egoistical member of the four, but also broke Reggie's heart.

Will the two resolve their grudges? Can Jean get off her high horse and rejoin the quartet? And will the veteran musicians' sage remarks mock modern music?

Quartet is as predictable as the answers to these questions, not to mention having a flawed plot in which Beecham House will face bankruptcy unless the quartet sing together again and raise funds. Thankfully the film is far more attentive to character than plot.

Smith's performance is brilliant: she excels at frosty punchlines, as she does in Downton Abbey. Yet her obstinacy over her waning ability reveals unforeseen vulnerability.

Many of the film's smaller roles are fittingly performed by real-life musicians. Be sure to stay for the credits; the outro is lovely.

YP Rating: 4/5

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