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Quintet 1979 ***

Paul Newman and Robert Altman are hardly the first names that come up in discussions of science-fiction, but 1979 oddity Quintet sees them sparking a pre-Hunger Games vision of a dystopian society. Newman plays Essex, a loner who stumbles into a snow-white netherworld where a living board game called Quintet is being played out, with Vittorio Gassman, Fernando Rey and Bibi Andersson amongst the players. Essex agrees to play, with a pregnant wife to support, but the game itself proves to be as inhospitable as the nuclear winter everyone appears to be living through. Quintet is a bizarre entry in Altman and Newman’s careers, but not an unrewarding one, with echoes of Tarkovsky’s austere sci-fi popping up in a chillingly oblique drama.


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