Music of the Heart

"Very Good"

Music of the Heart Review


The creator of A Nightmare on Elm Street and Scream is toying with our conscience again, only this time his weaponry isn't Freddy's claws or a murderous prank caller. Director Wes Craven's latest endeavor, Music of the Heart, switches gears to more virtuous human emotions in order to tell us the story of one woman's triumph and the revival of a downtrodden urban community. Oddly enough, this film is just as powerful as any of Craven's horror films and can evoke strong emotion and sentiment, if you let it.

Music of the Heart begins like any of the other "triumphant teacher" dramas we've all seen. Stand and Deliver and Dangerous Minds both crossed my mind as I sat through the first hour of Roberta Guaspari's (Meryl Streep) struggle to teach a handful of young urban kids how to play the violin. This part of the story is hackneyed and clichéd, and you've seen it before--if not in a previous movie than in some boring after-school special. But where other "triumphant teacher" dramas fail because they concentrate too much on the saintliness of the teacher, this movie succeeds in its captivation of Roberta Guaspari's character flaws, and her struggle as a single mother attempting to raise her two children in East Harlem. When the film expands beyond the existence of just "Roberta the teacher" and into the rest of her life, the film becomes genuinely enjoyable.

About an hour and a half into Music of the Heart, it zaps you ten years into the future. All of a sudden, you're in the nineties. Roberta's kids are older and more mature and although she's still single, she is now an accomplished teacher. However, her fate is not yet sealed as she faces a career-threatening crisis that jeopardizes all she has worked for.

This is where the film really takes off and the strong supporting cast kicks in. School principal Janet Williams (Angela Bassett -- How Stella Got Her Groove Back) and Jane Leeves (Frasier) both are superb in support of Streep, who puts on yet another credible chameleon act. Her teenage children, Nick (Charlie Hofheimer) and Lexi (Kieran Culkin) are both uplifting and extremely affable as they help their mother cope. Even Gloria Estefan, in her acting debut, rounds out an excellent supporting cast. With all its cylinders clicking, the film takes a kind of Mr. Holland's Opus path toward a conclusion filled with grandeur.

I don't consider myself overly emotional, but this movie is really touching: I haven't felt tears swelling up like that since Curly Sue with James Belushi. I don't know if it was just my mood or the violin music coupled with some powerful surges of sentimentality. Decide for yourself, and let me know.



Music of the Heart

Facts and Figures

Run time: 124 mins

In Theaters: Friday 29th October 1999

Distributed by: Miramax

Production compaines: Craven-Maddalena Films, Miramax Films

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 3.5 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 64%
Fresh: 56 Rotten: 32

IMDB: 6.7 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Starring: as Roberta Guaspari, as Principal Janet Williams, as Isabel Vasquez, as Assunta Guaspari, as Nick at 7, as Brian Turner, as Lexi at 15, as Nick at 17, as Dorothea von Haeften

Contactmusic


Links


Advertisement

New Movies

Star Wars: The Last Jedi Movie Review

Star Wars: The Last Jedi Movie Review

After the thunderous reception for J.J. Abrams' Episode VII: The Force Awakens two years ago,...

Daddy's Home 2 Movie Review

Daddy's Home 2 Movie Review

Like the 2015 original, this comedy plays merrily with cliches to tell a silly story...

The Man Who Invented Christmas Movie Review

The Man Who Invented Christmas Movie Review

There's a somewhat contrived jauntiness to this blending of fact and fiction that may leave...

Ferdinand Movie Review

Ferdinand Movie Review

This animated comedy adventure is based on the beloved children's book, which was published in...

Brigsby Bear Movie Review

Brigsby Bear Movie Review

Director Dave McCary makes a superb feature debut with this offbeat black comedy, which explores...

Battle of the Sexes Movie Review

Battle of the Sexes Movie Review

A dramatisation of the real-life clash between tennis icons Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs,...

Shot Caller Movie Review

Shot Caller Movie Review

There isn't much subtlety to this prison thriller, but it's edgy enough to hold the...

Advertisement
The Disaster Artist Movie Review

The Disaster Artist Movie Review

A hilariously outrageous story based on real events, this film recounts the making of the...

Stronger Movie Review

Stronger Movie Review

Based on a true story about the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing, this looks like one...

Only the Brave Movie Review

Only the Brave Movie Review

Based on a genuinely moving true story, this film undercuts the realism by pushing its...

Wonder Movie Review

Wonder Movie Review

This film may be based on RJ Palacio's fictional bestseller, but it approaches its story...

Happy End  Movie Review

Happy End Movie Review

Austrian auteur Michael Haneke isn't known for his light touch, but rather for hard-hitting, award-winning...

Patti Cake$ Movie Review

Patti Cake$ Movie Review

Seemingly from out of nowhere, this film generates perhaps the biggest smile of any movie...

The Limehouse Golem Movie Review

The Limehouse Golem Movie Review

A Victorian thriller with rather heavy echoes of Jack the Ripper, this film struggles to...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.