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

Julieta Movie Review

Julieta Movie Review

Iconic Spanish filmmaker Pedro Almodovar is back with another powerfully complex female-centred drama, along the...

Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping Movie Review

Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping Movie Review

An astute satire of the pop music business, this raucous mock-documentary is consistently hilarious from...

War Dogs Movie Review

War Dogs Movie Review

Based on a rather astounding true story, this comedy-drama centres on two stoners who landed...

Swallows and Amazons Movie Review

Swallows and Amazons Movie Review

After a number of films, TV series and stage adaptations, Arthur Ransome's beloved 1930 novel...

David Brent: Life on the Road Movie Review

David Brent: Life on the Road Movie Review

The original BBC sitcom The Office ran for 14 episodes from 2001 to 2003, and...

The Childhood of a Leader Movie Review

The Childhood of a Leader Movie Review

Bold and intelligent, this dark drama is a challenging portrait of the making of an...

Pete's Dragon Movie Review

Pete's Dragon Movie Review

This hugely enjoyable adventure is a loose remake of the 1977 Disney hit that blended...

Advertisement
The Shallows Movie Review

The Shallows Movie Review

With a simple premise and plenty of visual style, Spanish filmmaker Jaume Collet-Serra (Unknown) takes...

Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates Movie Review

Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates Movie Review

Watching this gross-out comedy, it's clear that the gifted cast and crew had a great...

Nerve Movie Review

Nerve Movie Review

With a premise that feels almost eerily current, this stylish thriller revolves around a phone...

The Carer Movie Review

The Carer Movie Review

Brian Cox gets the role of a lifetime in this warm comedy about living life...

Born to Be Blue Movie Review

Born to Be Blue Movie Review

Writer-director Robert Budreau takes a stylised approach to this biopic of the legendary jazz artist...

Jason Bourne Movie Review

Jason Bourne Movie Review

It's been nine years since Matt Damon and Paul Greengrass collaborated on The Bourne Ultimatum,...

The Commune [Kollektivet] Movie Review

The Commune [Kollektivet] Movie Review

Veteran Danish filmmaker Thomas Vinterberg (Festen, The Hunt) returns to a smaller homegrown story after...

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.