No relation to the 1949 Somerset Maugham "omnibus" film of the same name, 1981's Quartet is based on the roman a clef by Jean Rhys. Though the names are changed, it is clearly the story of Rhys' romance with Ford Maddox Ford in 1920s Paris. The titular quartet consists of novelist Isabelle Adjani, her Polish husband Anthony Higgins, wealthy philanderer Alan Bates and Bates' artist wife Maggie Smith. Though she's been indulgent of Higgins's past indiscretions, Smith isn't keen on her husband carrying on an affair with Adjani under their own roof. Meanwhile, Higgins sits in prison, jailed for his various petty thefts. Once Higgins is released, he learns about the Bates-Adjani-Smith contretemps. When the dust settles, it is Adjani who suffers the most.
by Hal Erickson synopsis