Quartet – DVD review

Dustin Hoffman, 2012
Momentum ★★☆☆☆

Dustin Hoffman’s directorial debut falls well short of his renowned acting prowess. Set in a near-stately home for retired opera singers, it casts a thespian elite (Courtenay, Gambon and co) as an ensemble tuning up for a quartet when prima donna Maggie Smith moves in. Will she deign to perform? Discord, dementia and death hover in the wings. With Smith’s swivel-eyed glare and put-downs, it’s all very Downton Abbey – only with nurses for servants. Billed as “life-affirming”, this is a sugar-coated schmaltzfest whose spoilt divas struggle to inspire our sympathy.

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