At age seventy-five, Dustin Hoffman has made an outstanding directorial debut with this gentle comedy about aging musicians living at Beecham House, a British retirement house. The film is based on Italy’s Casa di Riposo per Musicisti, first chronicled in the 1984 documentary Tosca’s Kiss.
The musical seniors are rehearsing for the annual gala fundraising concert. When legendary diva Jean Horton (Maggie Smith) arrives, she creates a stir and receives a standing ovation from the other residents.
But not everyone is pleased to see her.
Reggie Paget (Tom Courtenay) still holds a grudge against his ex-wife and fellow member of a London operatic dream team. Two other members of the team, Wilf Bond (Billy Connolly) and Cissie Robson (Pauline Collins), also live at Beecham and hope to persuade Jean to join them and wow the audience with their famous quartet from Rigoletto.
The supporting actors include actual retired stars, among them opera singer Gwyneth Jones and jazz pianist Jack Honeyborne.
Hoffman has provided the perfect backdrop for creative people who refuse to slow down, despite their aging bodies and minds.
Simply delightful from start to finish.