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Quartet (1981)

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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.


James Ivory


Jean Rhys (novel), Ruth Prawer Jhabvala (screenplay) | 1 more credit »
Nominated for 1 BAFTA Film Award. Another 2 wins & 1 nomination. See more awards »





Cast overview, first billed only:
Isabelle Adjani ... Marya Zelli
Suzanne Flon ... Mme. Hautchamp
Sébastien Floche Sébastien Floche ... Edouard Hautchamp (as Sebastien Floche)
Anthony Higgins ... Stephan Zelli
Maggie Smith ... Lois Heidler
Sheila Gish ... Anna
Daniel Chatto Daniel Chatto ... Guy
Paulita Sedgwick Paulita Sedgwick ... Esther
Alan Bates ... H.J. Heidler
Bernice Stegers ... Miss Nicholson
Isabelle Canto da Maya Isabelle Canto da Maya ... Cri-Cri (as Isabelle Canto Da Maya)
François Viaur François Viaur ... Lefranc
Wiley Wood Wiley Wood ... Cairn
Dino Zanghi Dino Zanghi ... Prison Guard
Michel Such Michel Such ... Prison Guard


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 Huggo

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Drama | Romance


R | See all certifications »

Did You Know?


The first Merchant/Ivory production set in the 1920's since their 'The Wild Party' (1975). See more »


H.J. Heidler: [to Lois] I'm not interested in being kind to anyone. I'm interested in them. In character. In forms of life. You should've married a stockbroker and stayed with him in South Kensington.
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Alternate Versions

French dubbed version with French credit roll for French Release version. See more »


Full Time Lover
Arranged by Luther Henderson
Written by Richard Robbins (uncredited)
Performed by Armelia McQueen (uncredited)
See more »

User Reviews

An autobiographical story
23 August 2003 | by djpassSee all my reviews

Jean Rhys wrote this novel about her relationship with the then prominent writer Ford Madox Ford. While a young woman's husband is in prison, she is taken in by a writer and his wife, becoming the man's mistress. It was not a happy affair, but at least Rhys got her revenge with this story.

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Official Sites:

Merchant Ivory Productions


UK | France


English | French

Release Date:

25 October 1981 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Quartet See more »

Filming Locations:

France See more »


Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$5,150, 5 May 2019

Gross USA:


Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:




Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
See full technical specs »

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