Dustin gets the gang together for one last warble


TO THE BFI London Film Festival for an orgy of culture and cheap celebrity spotting. On Monday, Reel News walked the red carpet – unnoticed and unappreciated – for the premiere of Dustin Hoffman’s Quartet.

Written by Ronald Harwood, the picture marks (somewhat surprisingly) Mr Hoffman’s debut behind the camera. Quartet stars Maggie Smith, Billy Connolly, Tom Stoppard and Pauline Collins as indomitable retired classical singers coming together for one last warble. The whole gang was on stage for the screening and Hoffman, as ever, proved to be amusing and self-deprecatory.

At a later press event, Dame Maggie found time to give out about cinema’s obsession with youth. “It seems to me there is a change in what audiences want to see,” she said. “I can only hope that’s correct, because there’s an awful lot of people of my age around now, and we outnumber the others.”

She would surely have had time for Lenny Abrahamson’s What Richard Did, which received yet more raves after its festival screening. Tom Huddleston of Time Out, in his four-star notice, enthused: “Abrahamson has pulled off something quietly remarkable: a study of morality which never feels like a treatise, a bracingly realistic film about teenagers which never becomes patronising and a gripping melodrama which swerves sentiment.”

Elsewhere, the festival allowed various awards contenders to position themselves. In a conversation with Michael Haneke, director of the transcendent Amour, your current correspondent dared to suggest the picture might be his most accessible yet. “I find all my films accessible,” he said with something a little like a smile.