It’s 1927 Paris. Following the conviction of her art dealer husband, Stephan Zelli, for theft for which he was handed a one-year prison sentence, Marya Zelli, originally from West India, moves in with her acquaintances, expatriate Brits H.J. and Lois Heidler. Marya knows that H.J. in particular has more in mind than just providing her lodging out of the goodness of his heart.
From behind bars, Stephan encourages Marya to move in with them not knowing H.J.’s intentions. Marya agrees in part because she, being a foreigner, cannot get work and would thus become destitute otherwise. She learns she is the latest in a long line of lodgers. She also learns that H.J. and Lois’ marriage is not all that it appears on the surface. The Heidler’s hold on Marya becomes stronger when they convince her that Stephan not only has no money but has no future in France after his release.
Quartet is a 1981 Merchant Ivory Film, starring Maggie Smith, Isabelle Adjani, Anthony Higgins and Alan Bates, set in 1927 Paris. It premiered at the 1981 Cannes Film Festival and was an entry for the Sélection Officielle (Official Selection). It was adapted from the novel by the same name by Jean Rhys.
Directed by: James Ivory
Starring: Alan Bates, Maggie Smith, Isabelle Adjani, Anthony Higgins, Pierre Clémenti, Suzanne Flon, Daniel Mesguich, Sheila Gish
Screenplay by: Ruth Prawer Jhabvala
Production Design by: Jean-Jacques Caziot
Cinematography by: Pierre Lhomme
Film Editing by: Humphrey Dixon
Costume Design by: Judy Moorcroft
Music by: Richard Robbins
Distributed by: New World Pictures (US), Gaumont (France)
Release Date: October 25, 1981