Quartet (2012)

Director: Dustin Hoffman
Writer: Ronald Harwood
Based on: Ronald Harwood’s play
Cast: Maggie Smith, Tom Courtenay, Billy Connolly, Pauline Collins, Michael Gambon, Sheridan Smith, Andrew Sachs

At a home for retired musicians, the inhabitants are preparing for their yearly concert with which they also wish to raise some funds to keep the home opened. But things get disrupted when Jean (Maggie Smith) arrives at the home. Not only does Jean still stick to her diva ways, though she refuses to sing, she used to be married to Reggie (Tom Courtenay) who also lives in the home. Things between Reggie and Jean are unresolved, to put it mildly. But with the help of their friends Cissy (Pauline Collins) and Wilf (Billy Connolly), plus a planned quartet performance by the four of them, they start to put the past to rest.

Quartet was okay, but it certainly wasn’t great. Though it’s actually short, it dragged on. Plus, it remained annoyingly shallow and I just took an immediate dislike to Billy Connolly’s character.


Quartet could have been really nice. But it just falls flat on several counts. The first being Wilf who is the stereotypical horny old guy. I mean, he keeps his hand to himself, but if that’s the most positive thing you can say about a guy, it’s not very good. And this cliché just really has to die. It’s insulting to old men and it makes light of sexual harrassment. Yay.

And since the movie basically starts with Wilf, we really got off on the wrong foot. And it didn’t get any better afterwards either.


Another major problem I had was that neither the script nor the direction managed to build up any kind of tension. The movie flows along, never hits any lows or highs. And I just didn’t connect with it or with its characters most of the time.

The only exception to this was the relationship between Jean and Cissy. I thought that was interesting and I would have loved to get more of it. Also because Maggie Smith and Pauline Collins did a really great job with it. But in the end, it just wasn’t enough.


Summarising: Dustin Hoffman should probably stick to acting.

6 thoughts on “Quartet (2012)

  1. How can Maria Montessori not be on the compulsory reading list? :O (I can only think of her and Rosseau as famous.)

    Still… Probably you shouldn’t expect paedagogics to be different from the rest of academia concerning academic recognition of women. Females don’t play the “quote your buddy bcs buddy will quote you” thingy so well, they don’t do the pat-his-shoulder-thingy so well.
    And anyway their work has less value and genius because they are female and if they get published it’s because they have certainly f***d the editor. *duckandrun*

    (And sorry for hijacking your postings whenever I see a tweet I want to answer to. Don’t want to get twitter, I’d check it too often.)

    • (Hijack away, no problem whatsoever.)

      Rousseau wrote on education, but he’s not really a Didaktiker, so I can understand that. But Montessori… It’s a complete mystery to me.

      But yes, of course, pedagogy is not much different from the rest of academia, except for two things: education itself is seen as a woman’s job (which can’t be said of sociology or politics or biology or whatever) and the number of female students is extremely high (as I said, at the moment I think it’s 90%). So the odds should be stacked more in favor of female scientists than in other fields.

      Obviously that’s not enough, though. The faculty doesn’t reflect the demographics of the students, the assigned reading was written by men, the course content in general only is about what men said about stuff. And I’m just so fed up with it (already).

      This semester promises to be a little better. I hope.

      • I can totally rely to your feelings. (Ha, you’d have the brains to become a famous professor – too bad you have other plans. :P)

        Concerning the female student-to-professor rate (I hope this makes sense? I wouldn’t know how to say it in German, either):
        You are right that it is a shame. Yet I think the student rate (90%female) isn’t a good indicator, I think junior professor (or maybe phd-student already) to “real” professor is better.
        I think that many students already know what they want to be when they enroll – and I’d bet that the majority of paedagogics students doesn’t see themselves in academia. (comparision: There would be many more history students dreaming of an academic career).

        I’d love to take up sociology, but I pity you for paedagogics and the majority of people you have to meet there. I have *never* in my life met so many stupid women so focused on their gender-roles. Always talking about men, about marriage and children and having time for their children (which are not yet conceived or anything.) … I really hope you get to know a few cool people, too.

        • Since all the assistant professors etc have to study pedagogy first, the female students to professor ratio is quite accurate, I think. I mean, if you have 90% female students in the BA program (and I was talking about pedagogy only), you should have 90% female students in the MA program, in the PhD program, and working at the uni etc.
          Of course not everybody who studies wants an academic career – quite to the contrary, in pedagogy. But that’s why we’re using percentages and not absolute numbers.

          If you’ve got 90% female students in the BA program and suddenly only 50% female students in the PhD program, it’s clear that something is very off, too – it’s just off earlier in the career than becoming a professor.

          Anyway, I did already meet some nice people in both institutes, but I have to admit that (at least at the moment) I’m not that interested in the social side of uni.

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