Movie Review – Quintet
Director: Robert Altman
Starring: Paul Newman, Fernando Rey
Now, I like 70s movies. I’d say that’s my favorite film era. They have a certain feel, a certain quality, that you don’t find in other decades. They move slowly, but that just adds an emphasis to a plot that is usually fairly simple compared to today’s complex and metaphorical themes. Films like Deliverance or Jeremiah Johnson. And for the matter, I like Paul Newman, one of the greatest actors of all time; The Sting, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, and Cool Hand Luke. But something happened here that I did not expect; Paul Newman did a movie in the 70s that was literally unwatchable.
Quintet is set in a dystopian future in which the Earth has entered a new Ice Age. The world population is mainly centered in large cities, with only a few nomads roaming the frigid wild, hunting for seals and fighting for survival. When Essex returns to his home in the city after years in the wilderness, he finds that things have changed; people in the city have given up hope, are slowly dying, and no longer have children. Their only concern is for the playing of Quintet, a game of five players plus one shadowy sixth. With playing the game in casinos having become dull, the tournament has now become real, with human pieces competing for their lives. As Essex becomes drawn into the web of Quintet, his only chance to win is to adapt and fight, even if he doesn’t completely understand the rules.
I am hard pressed to think of a movie that was worse than Quintet. It was utterly awful. The actors were all bundled up in layers of clothing and were breathing steamy breath. They were obviously freezing and could barely move; not conditions conducive to good acting. Newman was the only actor to not be speaking in an Italian accent, a very distracting tidbit. The plot centered around his character wandering around an icy city trying to figure out why everyone wanted to kill everyone else. There was little dialogue, little action, little of anything that makes a movie good. The only positive was the set; a beautifully constructed, frighteningly futuristic, ice world. But it didn’t matter; the set was great, but the story set in it was so terrible that nothing could save it.
My rating: ✰