Very little of the criticism levied at Dustin Hoffman's directorial debut, Quartet, are serious. Largely because it's not a particularly serious film. The whole thing is lighthearted fun, behaving like a bit of a playground for the above-middle-age cast and director, all of whom who have enjoyed successful careers and don't necessarily need to push themselves in anything dark and mysterious.
Quartet is the story of a quartet of ageing musicians, living in a home together. In their younger days they had performed together, and they would like to again. Starring Maggie Smith, Billy Connolly, Michael Gambon, Tom Courtenay and Sheridan Smith as support. Reviews have been fairly average so far.
The Guardian's Peter Bradshaw gave it a desultory 2/5 stars saying that it "is stale, lifeless and often weirdly humourless," but praising Sheridan Smith, who he says "actually steals the film, just a little, with a quietly affecting final speech."
Robbie Collin of the Telegraph was a little more generous with 3/5. "Quartet is a lovely old lolloping Labrador of a film." He says, "There's a gentle, sugared honesty in Quartet about old age: it stops short of anything too testing or tragic." 3/5 seems to be the fair number for the film, as Time Out gave it the same. "If the point-blank treatment of old age and mortality in this year's French arthouse hit 'Amour' makes you nervous, here's the cuddly British version - with songs" he quipped, summing it up as "a light, fruity film".
Fundamentally, it's bound to be a laugh. It's very difficult to go wrong with thespian royalty of the calibre in this film, so if you want something easy and humoured, check it out this weekend. If not, go see The Impossible.