The rightful rejection of this film is actually *presented in the film itself* in Newman's character rejecting the society and game the film presents.
The game is a pointless and destructive exercise in which the characters feel briefly alive during the struggle. Essex (Newman's character) is unwittingly drawn into the game because he's trying to figure out why his lover and unborn child were killed by a bomber.
He figures out the game, triumphs over the aging Vasco da Gama look-alikes, and rejects the game entirely in order to search for life and meaning elsewhere...somewhere that isn't wallowing in defeatist ramblings. North.
In a very meta way, making a bad film for the audience to reject is brilliant art. But it doesn't make the film good. Quintet is not a good film, as much as it pains me to say it. I'm not sure what Altman was after, but I don't think he got there.