Music Of The Heart


Directed by: Wes Craven
Written by:Pamela Gray
Starring: Meryl Streep, Aidan Quinn, Angela Bassett, Gloria Estefan, Jay O. Sanders
Released: May 11, 2000
Grade: B+

Meryl Streep notched up a record 12th Academy Award nomination for her role in Music Of The Heart and one asks the question - does she get nominated every year by default?  I’m critical but after finally catching this film my doubts are dispelled and one understands why her wonderful performance cannot be overlooked.

Music Of The Heart is based on the life of Roberta Guaspari (played by Streep).  Roberta’s husband has left her and she’s living back with her mother, looking after her two young sons, and trying to make ends meet.  Inspired by both her mother and an old school friend, she approaches a school in inner city Harlem where she tries to coach the principal (Bassett) into giving her a position as a violin teacher.  After heavy persuasion, Roberta makes it on the staff as a substitute and begins a violin program for the younger students.

I could describe the rest of the movie in a simple paragraph, which is a flaw of the film.  I’m sure the real Roberta had a lot more noteworthy adventures that those depicted in this film.  The film has all the characteristics of Mr. Holland’s Opus.  Some of the tackier moments include the ridiculously over-the-top music head and the mother who won’t let her son in the class only to be turned around by Streep’s dazzle.

On the flipside of the coin, the film has some superb characters delivered from a stellar cast.  Streep leads the charge but Angela Bassett, Jane Leeves, Jay O. Sanders, Cloris Leachman, Kieren Culkin and Charlie Hofheimer were wonderful.  It keeps the film on the track and overrides some of the film’s slower moments.

It’s an inspiring tale that you’ve seen before but will still be moved by.  True stories usually do this.  It’s hard to believe that horror film specialist Wes Craven was the director.  Could he have picked a film any further from his niche?  Certainly a bold gamble and whilst the combination of Streep and Craven doesn’t sound like a feasible mix, Music Of The Heart is the result and a good result it is.