Marya Zelli finds herself penniless after her art dealer husband, Stephan, is convicted of theft. Marya accepts the hospitality of a strange couple, H.J. and Lois Heidler, who lets her live in their house.
It's 1927 Paris. Following the conviction of her art dealer husband, Stephan Zelli (Anthony Higgins), for theft for which he was handed a one-year prison sentence, Marya Zelli (Isabelle Adjani), originally from West India, moves in with her acquaintances, expatriate Brits H.J. (Sir Alan Bates) and Lois Heidler (Dame Maggie Smith). 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. Their collective lives become more ...Written by
Few screenwriters have ever jumped the gap that Jhabvala traversed between THE EUROPEANS (1979) and QUARTET (1981). I know of no other film that captures as well the sense of European pre-WW2 'decadence' (compare CABARET for an object lesson in failure!), or that is directed and photographed with stronger integration of the settings, colours, sounds and behavior within the story being told. A remarkable achievement - the film that put filmmakers on notice about how well the remarkable Jhabvala/Ivory/Merchant trio present stories locked into their space and time.
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