Quartet (1981)


(out of 5)

As in all Merchant Ivory films, the physical qualities of this production are top notch: the sets and costumes are gorgeous, the music beautifully scored, and the quality of the period (in this case, jazz-age Paris) recreated with authentic perfection. Unfortunately, the story is not up to snuff and the overall effect of watching it play out is boring.  plays the young, beautiful wife of an antiques dealer who is left to fend for herself when he is sent to prison for a matter of months. He begs her to take up a generous couple’s offer to stay with them, and she does, befriending the insecure wife () and becoming the object of lust for the weak-willed husband (). The personal power play between these four characters makes up the meat of the film, but eventually Smith’s character’s desperation becomes tiresome and Adjani’s breathy innocence seems false. You won’t give a damn what happens to them, nor will you be glad you stayed long enough to find out what does.

United Kingdom/France1981

Directed by 

Screenplay by , French dialogue by , based on the novel by 

Cinematography by 

Produced by ,

Music by

Production Design by

Costume Design by

Film Editing by

Film Festivals:  Cannes 1981

Cast Tags:  , , , , , , , ,, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Cannes Film Festival Award
Best Actress (Isabelle Adjani)

British Academy Award Nomination
Best Actress (Maggie Smith)