I’m a bit of a sucker for Billy Connolly and he joins a host of talented actors in this heart-warming film about a group of senior musicians in a retirement home, Beecham House. Wilf (Billy C), Reggie (Tom Courtenay), and the delightfully ditsy Cissy (Pauline Collins), are rehearsing for a fund-raising concert to be held at the home on October 10th, Verdi’s birthday. Their plans are thrown into confusion by the arrival of a new resident, soprano and Reggie’s ex-wife, Jean (Maggie Smith). It transpires that these four singers had made up the quartet in a famously successful recording of the aria “Bella figlia dell’ amore” from Verdi’s opera Rigoletto. The plot centres on whether Jean can be persuaded to join the trio for the benefit concert.
The film was directed by Dustin Hoffman and shot at the stunning Georgian Hedsor House in Taplow, Buckinghamshire, a beautiful backdrop to the story. The cast is certainly star-studded and I was not at all surprised to learn from the credits that many of the actors had enjoyed ‘real’ careers as musicians, singers and composers. It’s an uplifting story, reaffirming the fact that later life can be full of fun and laughter. As Dr Cogan (Sheridan Smith) asserts before the final concert ‘their love of life is infectious’.