If you’re looking for an easy way to start a conversation about aging, take your loved to the movies.
“Quartet” is funny, poignant, hopeful. The plot is slender, the meanings multi-layered. I’m still thinking about it.
Directed by Dustin Hoffman, the film stars Maggie Smith as Jean and Tom Courtenay as Reg, former opera singers who were once married. They’re brought together again at Beecham House, a home for retired musicians.
The House’s survival hinges on how much money can be raised at an annual gala produced by the residents. When famous diva Jean arrives everyone is delighted, thinking she’ll draw a big crowd. But she refuses to join Reg, Cissy (Pauline Collins), and Wilf (Billy Connolly) in the quartet from Rigoletto. She does not want to risk her reputation by singing in public when she’s no longer at her peak.
A slim plot. But on a deeper level this film is about loss, vulnerability, community. It’s about forgiveness and hope. It’s about acceptance. It’s about having the courage to fail. And, at bottom, it’s about love.
“Quartet” does not sugar-coat aging. But it does celebrate the possibilities for finding meaning and even joy in every day we are given.
I left smiling and inspired.