Movie offers a realistic look at senior life

For the majority of our married life (soon to be 53 years), my wife and I have set apart every Friday as our night, which means we typically go to dinner and a movie or theatrical production.

As a result, we’ve seen hundreds of movies over the years, some of which have been very memorable, and some we try quickly to forget.

Every once in a while, we have the pleasure of seeing a movie that not only provides a great time of entertainment, but is also a wonderful window through which we are able to see the reality of people living life and dealing with the same issues and challenges we all face. Sometimes those people are seniors.

One such movie, that my wife and I recently saw not once, but three times, was Quartet, which featured a great British cast, including Maggie Smith, who is one of our favorite actresses.

By the way, in case you’ve not seen the movie, it will  be available on DVD on June 18.

The setting for this film is one of England’s most scenic estates, the fictional Beecham House for Retired Musicians.

As the film begins, it becomes apparent that the residents are quite concerned that the house may be in danger of losing its funding, and they are energetically engaged in preparation for an annual Verdi Gala fund raiser to save their beautiful retirement home.

Quartet centers on four opera singers, two men and two women, who years before performed Verdi Regoletto to standing ovations, but now one of the foursome is determined not to perform.

As the story unfolds, we see character traits and physical limitations that many seniors can relate to.

Wilfred struggles with some issues from a minor stroke he had before coming to Beecham House, although he more than compensates with his flirtatious advances towards some of the staff.

Then there’s Cissy, who exhibits ever-increasing moments of dementia, which threatens the quartet’s performance.

However, the biggest obstacle to this quartet’s reuniting is the relationship between Reginald and Jean.

It isn’t long before we discover that Reggie and Jean had once been briefly married, although Jean has moved on (two additional marriages), but Reggie has not. In fact, he still blames her for the failure of their brief marriage. But there is hope.

So here in these four characters we have a microcosm of the life facing many seniors today. A world that is both heartbreaking, and yet, at times, filled with great delight, joy, and fulfillment.

If you haven’t seen it already, give Quartet a try. I think you’ll not only be entertained, but you may find some new insights into coping with the challenges of aging.

Carl Johnson

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