One website says that the technology to film the book has finally caught up with Card's imagination. But, frankly, I don't believe that's true. The one big tricky thing in the book is the arena where the kids are taught to fight mock battles, but even that has surely been doable for some years now. Or am I overlooking something?

Quartet at last made it to the left coast, and it is charming and funny and I loved almost every minute. There's a note of sadness in it, touching on the loss of gifts and the approaching end of life. But it's a minor note; the movie is witty and upbeat and bubbling over with the love of music. Most of the supporting cast playing retired musicians are in fact retired musicians themselves (Dame Gwyneth Jones can still do a killer "Vissi d'arte"). And all the way through the movie we hear strains of familiar music, mostly operatic but not all. Periodically we hear the opening line of the Verdi "Quartet", a sort of teaser for what is to come.

Click to reveal..
Only it doesn't come -- not fully, at least. Maggie Smith's character and three others at the retirement home once recorded Rigoletto in a standard-setting performance. Maggie has to be talked into taking part in a concert staged annually on Verdi's birthday; she's just not the singer she once was. But she finally agrees, and when she and the others walk out on the stage, the entire audience rises and applauds like crazy out of sheer joy at seeing these four together again. And that's where the movie ends, on that moment of joy. We hear the quartet sung over the closing credits; we don't see the four stars singing it.

That's the part that left me unsatisfied. The four actors were given training for imitating operatic singing and were filmed doing so, but the scene was cut. Either they were terrible at it or the director thought that moment of joy would make a better ending. (It could have been moved to after the performance.) I really don't know why it was cut.