Picks and Pans Review: Quintet
The title of director Robert (Nashville) Altman's latest indulgence suggests harmony, but nothing could be more misleading. Quintet is, instead, a game, a deadly backgammon of the future where loss is death. The pentagon (get it?) is a recurring visual note and the basis for a ridiculous pseudophilosophy—the five sides represent birth, maturing, dealing with guilt, aging and death; the central space represents the void. The vestigial plot concerns a citizen of an ice-bound planet, Paul Newman, seeking—no joke—the meaning of the five-sided game obsessively played by a degenerating society. It is literally going to the dogs (packs of Dobermans nibble on frozen corpses throughout the film). Newman searches through decaying concrete corridors festooned with icicles and powdered with snow. While fabulously Kafka-esque, the sets cannot redeem a picture that doesn't so much chill audiences as bore them to death. (R)
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