Anything Maggie Smith does is alright with me. She could break wind on screen and I’d give her a standing ovation. She’s just my kind of actress, like Judi Dench and Joan Plowright. No wonder I have multiple orgasms when I watch ‘Tea with Mussolini’ – Maggie, Judi, Joan AND Cher. It’s a gay boy’s wet dream. Liam didn’t have to ask me twice when he suggested we see ‘Quartet,’ Maggie’s latest flick. Adapted from the original play, Dustin Hoffman’s directorial debut is set in a retirement home for classical musicians and singers. Maggie stars alongside Tom Courtney, Pauline Collins, Billy Connolly and Michael Gambon with a supporting chorus of real-life former divas, fiddlers, and ivory ticklers. We took our seats at Cinema City, our local picture house. The auditorium was crammed with half-cut old folk of Norfolk spending their winter fuel allowance on buckets of booze, illustrating that not every pensioner in the land is living on the edge of malnutrition and hypothermia. The film is a sweet tale of long-lost love reignited in old age. It brought back fine memories of an old friend’s mother who moved into sheltered housing and married the boy next door. At the time, they were both in their eighties and found a little companionship and happiness towards the end of their lives. I was honoured to be invited to their wedding. It gave me hope for the future, something I’ve clung onto ever since.
Naturally, Maggie as a crabby old opera singer was magnificent but, for me, Pauline Collins stole the show. Her touching performance of someone suffering from the onset of dementia, slipping in and out of cognisance, was delicately and beautifully played. Dementia is a subject Liam and I know only too well.