First Hit: An overall entertaining film and at times truly enjoyable, but at times, it also suffered from being slow and without focus.
The setting is a home for retired English musicians of all types. Although the grounds of this home are immaculate as well as the home, the storyline has you believe that they are next to closing if they don’t get more money.
Despite that this storyline isn’t believable; it does provide a reason for these retired musicians to put a show to collect money. As they meet and practice, the film audience gets an opportunity to glimpse what their life is like as they age. The clarinet player suffers from heart problems but his love for playing music is all he wants to do. Voices of these aging opera singers don’t quite have the tonal quality nor do they hit the high notes like they use to but their love for the music and memories of how they use to be are ever present.
The story is mainly about Jean Horton (Maggie Smith) coming to live in the house. Her former husband Reginald Paget (Tom Courtenay) lives there and is upset that he wasn’t consulted about her coming to live there.
There is a strong story line about their history. Reginald’s friends Wilf (Billy Connolly) and Cissy (Pauline Collins) come up with an idea to have the four of them, including Jean, to sing as a quartet, like they did years earlier.
Resolving their differences is what brings the drama and the comedy is about how they see each other, act towards each other and how they see themselves.
Smith is resurrecting a roll she had in “Marigold Hotel”, grumpy and somewhat mean at the beginning then comes out of her shell. Overall it was OK. Courtenay was good as the former jilted husband of Smith. His most touching sequence was when he as teaching young kids about Opera. Connolly was the funniest of the actors and his shtick was to be a romancer or a wanna be romancer. Collins was very enjoyable as the memory challenged woman with a big heart. Michael Gambon as Cedric Livingston was a lot of fun as the directorial arrogant ringleader of the show. Ronald Hardwood wrote the screenplay and although uneven, overall it was good. Dustin Hoffman directed this and generally it was OK.
Overall: This was an fun film to watch although a bit uneven.