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Worth A Look: 21.21%
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3 reviews, 15 user ratings

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by Dr. Isaksson

"Let's play a board game. The loser dies!"
2 stars

Robert Altman's peculiar 1979 film "Quintet" revolves around an odd board game called "Quintet". A really messed up backgammon type game where the player who loses the game also loses their LIFE! Sounds like an interesting idea right? Ummmm....

The setting is Earth during it's final ice age and the population has dwindled to near nothing. Enter Paul Newman, (The salad dressing King) as a drifter named Essex. He has entered an ice laden city in search of his brother and work. The city is populated by a bunch of quiet, despondent people who dress in thick robes and wrap their heads in strips of cloth to shield them from the cold. The clothing designers create some odd looking getups for everyone to wear and it makes them all look like they should be living in the Dark Ages not the Ice Ages. (Go figure).

Essex meets a woman named Ambrosia (played by the Ingmar Bergman illumni Bibi Andersson). Ambrosia is a woman who teaches Essex the rules of Quintet The game supposedly embodies everything the last survivors cherish of their empty lives. The game is their art, their entertainment, their faith, their past and their fate. Soon Essex is swept up in the intrigue of the game and the deadly ramifications the losers have to face. He begins to find out for himself why these people allow for such a horrific game to be played and soon uncovers the games deepest secrets. (Well at least I think that's what it was supposed to be about.)

Bibi Andersson is always appealing to watch but her talents are completely wasted on a character who has absolutely nothing to do but follow Newman around. There is even a blatant Bergman rip-off scene in the film where Andersson relates a dream she had to Newman. The scene is meaningless and plays off like an ode to Bergman and nothing more. I must say there is an impressive international cast including Vittario Gassman as St. Christopher, Fernando Rey as Grigor and Brigette Fossey as Vivia. (A young preganat woman who gets killed off 15 mins into it.) Unfortunately, they are all unappealing due to the pointless and goofy plot. As for old Paul Newman, he looks completely bored throughout the whole film. But thinking of Robert Altman and his way of film making, Newman's crappy performance is no shock. Robert Altman, (like Woody Allen) is excellent at letting his actors exercise their natural charisma in his films. (3 Women was a great example of this) and to be good in an Altman film, you have to let a little of your natural personality shine. But Newman is an actor who follows the classic approach and just isn't too good at giving a more free flowing performance. I wouldn't be shocked if Paul started to question his decision to be in the film a few weeks into shooting it because he just looks comatose throughout. He simply reads his lines and offers nothing extra. I don't think Altman could have made a worse choice for a lead actor in this kind of film.

{b]Quintet was well shot with great scenes of icy nothingness but the great cinematography is really it's only strong point. The film plays as hard and as clunky as the ice that covers every part of the city. The story meanders on ridiculously and the fantastic cast sleepwalks through their performances. It got really tiresome to see the dogs in the city devour the dead bodies, over and over again. Blah...

I just couldn't get over this one question that nagged at me the whole time. If no one cares if they live or die. Why the hell should I care? Throughout the 119 minutes of "Quintet" I didn't care in the least. ** 2 Stars

link directly to this review at http://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=6444&reviewer=296
originally posted: 03/31/03 02:22:10
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User Comments

3/26/16 FireWithFire Whaddya know? Altman couldn't do Sci-Fi worth shit,either! 1 stars
12/30/10 Gregory W Isaksson gets it wrong. Essex, the "hero", duh, is the one who cares. 4 stars
12/07/10 Milan Hladik Marvelled at slow pace preceding our click-click era. Magnetic 4 stars
12/02/10 William Boatman Hypnotic. It cured my insomnia. Newman brought minimalistic acting to a new low. 2 stars
12/22/09 Joe M For some reason I have a soft spot in my heart for this movie. 4 stars
11/24/06 mr. mike newman's own 3 stars
11/25/05 John C. Clark Boring, directionless, bleak without a meaning - Charles Tatum says it all. 1 stars
9/20/05 p. rejda everyone left theater except for about 4 people when we saw it years ago... 1 stars
4/18/05 Joe Fasilio Unbelievably bad. 1 stars
2/26/05 mike daddy after viewing it 4 times over 25 years, have finally grown to like and respect it. 4 stars
6/22/04 Joe Spann I enjoyed it. 4 stars
11/07/03 tatum Getting paid to watch this crap would have made my year 1 stars
8/20/03 Rich Alan Far too deep for the simple minds of paid critics. 4 stars
2/21/03 James Danford It's definately worth a look - about 5 times to absorb it. It's really one of my favorite 4 stars
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  02-Feb-1979 (R)
  DVD: 25-Apr-2006



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