‘Quartet” is a sweet-tempered, rather fuddly drama about retired opera singers, and compared to a slick crowd-pleaser like “Best Exotic Marigold Hotel,” with whom it shares a star and a sentimentalized view of old age, it’s a mess. That’s why I like it better and you may, too. As adapted by Ronald Harwood (“The Dresser”) from his stage play and directed by a first-timer named Dustin Hoffman, the new movie gives its actors and story line space to breathe, make mistakes, forge connections.
And it’s about performers and performance, which are things this director knows about. Specifically, “Quartet” is about what happens when a performing artist’s physical gifts start to fail with the years; whether acceptance or resistance is the wisest response; where to put one’s pride. The movie just couches these issues in a cozy love story.