No relation to the 1949 Somerset Maugham "omnibus" film of the same name, 1981's Quartet is based on the roman a clef by Jean Rhys. Though the names are changed, it is clearly the story of Rhys' romance with Ford Maddox Ford in 1920s Paris. The titular quartet consists of novelist Isabelle Adjani, her Polish husband Anthony Higgins, wealthy philanderer Alan Bates and Bates' artist wife Maggie Smith. Though she's been indulgent of Higgins's past indiscretions, Smith isn't keen on her husband carrying on an affair with Adjani under their own roof. Meanwhile, Higgins sits in prison, jailed for his various petty thefts. Once Higgins is released, he learns about the Bates-Adjani-Smith contretemps. When the dust settles, it is Adjani who suffers the most.~Hal Erickson
A new conversation with James Ivory and Pierre Lhomme
Conversations with the filmmakers
The Making of Quartet: a conversation with James Ivory
I purchased OUARTET because I am an avid Merchant-Ivory film fan; however, it is certainly not among their greatest period pieces. I found the plot mediocre, but remarkable performances by Isabelle Adjani and Maggie Smith, but Alan Bates seemed nit at his usual best. Beautifully filmed, lovely film score and the usual skilled cinematography, I rate QUARTET a minor classic, and not a masterpiece, yet it belongs in my film collection. I wouldn't necessarily recommend it to a friend, but if my friend is a Merchant-Ivory fan and hasn't seen the movie, I'd recommend the film rented. If my friend enjoyed it, then it could be purchased, Enough said about QUARTET.