Quintet Movie Review

Wow. If you've ever wanted proof that goiod filmmakers are capable of turning out junk from time to time, look no further than Quintet, Robert Altman's existentialist story about a game that the remaining survivors of an unspecified holocaust are forced to play. It's like Chinese Checkers, sort of, only it features real people who lose their lives when their piece is eliminated.

Alas, if you're expecting a taut thriller of who'll-survive-the-madness, think again. This is messy, roundabout filmmaking, full of cryptic dialogue, pregnant pauses, and symbolic imagery, all of which end up signifying absolutely nothing.

Paul Newman was somehow tricked into taking the lead role of Essex, a seal hunter who has been living away from the one inhabited city remaining for the last 10 years. He returns to find his brother and, ostensibly, to figure out what to do with his pregnant wife, a miracle since "new life" had been thought impossible. Ultimately this is all for naught as he gets sucked into a game of quintet as an observer, the sole pastime of virtually everyone left alive. Bodies pile up, and Essex tries to figure it all out. Cue coda.

Cold and distant, the film is truly bad in its own rights, a painful attempt at depth that comes across as nothing more than utter pretentiousness. But driving a final nail in its coffin is Altman's choice to shoot the entire film with an affected fuzziness on the edges of the frame. A full half of the picture is fuzzed out as if the lens was frosted over (you see, it's so cold), an effect which wholly ruins any credibility the picture had left.

Widely included in various "worst movies ever" lists, especially those from major directors. It is justifiably infamous (and a minor cult classic) for its badness.

Cast & Crew

Director :

Producer :

Starring : , Vittorio Gassman, , ,


Quintet Rating

" Terrible "

Rating: R, 1979


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