: : : Music of the Heart

Story

Why, you might ask, would Wes Craven direct a conventional biopic about Roberta Guaspari, a divorced mother of two who created an acclaimed music program in East Harlem's troubled school system? After all, Craven built his career on Freddy Krueger and the Scream trilogy, and you won't find razor-tipped gloves or a single drop of blood in Music of the Heart. All Craven has to do is provide a safe working environment for Meryl Streep (who earned an obligatory Oscar nomination), sublimate his deft directorial style, and surrender to the banalities of Pamela Gray's screenplay, which would've played more effectively on cable TV.

To be fair, Music of the Heart (partially inspired by the 1996 documentary Small Wonders) serves its purpose quite nicely. Streep is flawless in a non-showy role, and the story of Guaspari's celebrated violin training program provides the requisite rush of inner-city inspiration. As a fact-based companion to Mr. Holland's Opus, the film is less effective but similarly engaging; you'd have to be cold-hearted to dismiss it altogether. It's best when focusing on Guaspari's school program and the 10-year struggle to keep it alive; the drama falters when dealing half-heartedly with her tentative relationships, notably with a journalist (Aidan Quinn) who shies from commitment. And Craven? He seems content to direct by the numbers here, leaving inspiration on the screen while forfeiting his own. --Jeff Shannon

DVD Features

  • Color
  • Widescreen
  • Dolby

Cast

Meryl StreepRoberta Guaspari
Cloris LeachmanAssunta Guaspari
Aidan QuinnBrian Turner
Angela BassettPrincipal Janet Williams
Josh PaisDennis Rausch
Gloria EstefanIsabel Vasquez
Jane LeevesDorothea von Haeften
Kieran CulkinLexi at 15
Jay O. SandersDan Paxton

  • Genre: Drama Movies
  • Director: Wes Craven
  • Producer: Buena Vista
  • Length: 124 min
  • Aspect ratio: 1.85:1
  • Theatrical Release
    North AmericaOct 29, 1999
  • Ratings
    North AmericaPG
    EuropePG
    AustraliaPG
  • DVD Release
    North AmericaJul 1, 2003
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