Michael Gambon in Quartet.

Some actor named Dustin Hoffman makes his directorial debut with this sweet movie about aging musicians in a retirement home. (He was supposed to direct Straight Time many years ago, but he gave up the gig a couple of days into shooting.)

The film stars Maggie Smith, Billy Connolly, Tom Courtenay, Pauline Collins and Michael Gambon, all of whom are wonderful. Hoffman shows he has a deft touch with performers, which comes as no surprise.

His movie isn’t terribly original, but it is heartwarming and entertaining throughout. Smith and Courtenay are especially good as former lovers who get a chance to make up and become friends again.

This movie makes me wish Hoffman had gotten going on the director thing a long time ago. I hope he has some more films in him. 

Quartet is now playing at the Camelot Theatres (2300 E. Baristo Road, Palm Springs; 325-6565) and Cinemas Palme d’Or (72840 Highway 111, Palm Desert; 779-0430).