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, Rovi
This dark and depressing movie features 4 sad people; and no ones, including the viewer, gets much enlightenment from this stroy. There are a few lively spots in some of the 20's night clubs with some jazzy music, but this cannot save the actors or the movie. What were Merchant & Ivory thinking???
A beautifully produced and well acted movie, as most Merchant-Ivory films are. This one is slow moving and depressing, about a woman who becomes desperate after her husband is sent to prison for a year. She allows herself to be used by a wealthy leacherous man and his wife in order to survive, which ultimately leads to further despair.The film will not appeal to the general public.