This movie garnered quite good reviews in the local press and I was surprised when Bee readily agreed to go when I suggested it. It probably tells much about our age but I was happy to note that we were younger than the demographic age group of movie goers in the small theatre yesterday.
The story is about the residents of Beechem House, a retirement home for musicians. The home, a stately castle-like mansion, is located in a sprawling English countryside, with blooming spring flowers in the garden and a little gazebo. My first thought was, what a great place to retire to.
The residents are preparing for the annual gala fund-raising concert to maintain the home. Remember, they are all musicians, comprising conductor, pianists, members of orchestra and opera singers and thus, all have a role in the performance.
Reggie, Wilf and Ciccy were part of a quartet which had recorded Rigoletto by Verdi in their younger days, with the last member being diva Jean Holten (who reminded us repeatedly of her twelve-curtain-calls), ex-wife of Reggie, who joined the home just prior to the gala. Reggie is still hurt by their divorce but is persuaded by the organizer Cedric to rope in Jean to sing the Rigoletto quartet for the finale. Jean is reluctant as she is not confident of her voice but the thought of letting her once competitor sing the finale was bruising to her ego and she agrees.
The English story, produced and directed by Dustin Hoffman, tells the story simply and prods along rather slowly, the charm of it lifted by English wit and humour that I so enjoy.
The staff of the house, most much younger than the residents, banter with the residents good-naturedly and give us a feeling that they really enjoyed their rapport with the residents. I can’t help but contrast this to the usually gloomy condition of our nursing homes. In Beechem House, the residents continue to pursue their passion in music, and as Dr Lucy Cogan, the beautiful relatively young doctor remarks before she opens the gala concert, the spirit of the residents gives her hope for her own future on facing aging.
And that’s the message Bee and I went away with after the movie. As we await the end of our life in our later years, we should continue to live our life passionately, either through hobbies or other interests.