Quartet (2012)

Quart

Fantastic, well made comedy/drama full of great performances, beautiful cinematography, well-developed characters, and a tight, perfectly paced story that’s nothing special or particularly unique but is nonetheless enjoyable throughout, elderly cast and all. And this is Dustin Hoffman’s first attempt at directing? Could have fooled me. The man handles the job like a pro, like someone who’s done this kind of thing all his life, and yes I understand that he’s worked in films since he was a young’in, but he’s only ever been an actor as far as I know, and directing is a whole different ballgame, regardless of how long or skilled or well-regarded you are in any other branch of filmmaking. See Tommy Lee Jones’ terrible, terrible The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada for an example of how a great actor with a long, mostly successful career can still manage to churn out some awful, awful garbage. Or better yet, don’t.

But this film is great. One of the best of the year, actually, which is surprising given all the mediocre things I’d heard about it before going in. It’s just fun and funny, and the characters are so unique and entertaining, and everything is so beautifully shot, and the pace is perfect. It’s never brisk, but there’s never a lull either; everything just flows. I’ve never seen a film so well paced, actually. Maybe it’s the great editing? And the acting, wow. Maggie Smith in particular manages to convey so much sympathy, so much humanity, yet also so much confidence and humor from just her face alone. Best female performance of the year. And what a hilarious, occasionally over the top performance from Billy Connolly. What a character! But the others are just as good. I almost didn’t want the thing to end, they worked so well together. I can’t remember the last time I felt that way watching a film.

Overall, I really enjoyed this film. It’s great, brilliantly directed, crafted, made, all that good stuff. Even the credit sequence at the end was kind of cool. I was shocked. Granted the story isn’t the greatest or most original thing in the world, as I mentioned before, and it does take a bit to get used to given the “advanced” age of most of its main cast, but you get over it fairly quickly once the extremely well crafted nature of it all starts to sink in. I also noticed that Hoffman really likes to film pretty faces, namely, those of younger women, not that there’s anything wrong with that. And such distinctly attractive faces too, all gorgeously lit and emphasized, even within crowds. It really draws the eye, and yet,  it never feels sleazy. It’s hard to describe, but the faces lend the film an elegant, almost classy feel. Not sure exactly what Hoffman was going for there, if anything, but I liked it. Can’t have too many attractive women in a film, I say. But you can tell a lot of passion went into this film, and a lot of love for the material, and the subject matter. Very, very well done.

So, great film, very enjoyable. Not the most original thing in the world, but extremely well made, acted, shot, etc etc. Definitely worth a watch. One of the best films of 2012, hands down.

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