Music of The Heart

Video Reviews

Music OF The Heart

D: Wes Craven (1999); with Meryl Streep, Gloria Estefan, Aidan Quinn, Angela Bassett.

Just as David Lynch stepped out of the darkness to make The Straight Story, Craven abandons screams for heartstrings and violin strings. This is the true story of Roberta Gaspari (played by Streep), a classically trained violinist who ends up teaching music in East Harlem. With a divorce fresh on her mind and a need for acceptance, she persuades the school to allow her to teach violin lessons to the kids of Harlem. After a rough go, she begins to make headway. She also finds romance in the arms of writer Brian (Quinn). Before long, drama sets in as he can't make a commitment to her. Even worse, the school can't commit either. Budget cuts are forcing her program out of the picture. But Roberta's a fighter. She sees the difference music has made in the lives of children as well as her own life. Anyone who's seen other Hollywood versions of real education stories like Stand and Deliver and Lean on Me can predict what will happen. Nonetheless, Streep is fine in her role, and the supporting cast is solid. Even more surprising is Craven's commercial treatment of the story. He keeps things sugar-coated enough to make it inviting yet adds doses of harsh reality as a reminder that New York can be a dangerous place and rejection is a bitter pill. His treatment is perfect for this type of film, and its message about the importance of music in schools is loud and clear.

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for almost 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

READ MORE
More Screens Reviews
What If the Marx Brothers Got Around to Making That Movie With Salvador Dalí?
What If the Marx Brothers Got Around to Making That Movie With Salvador Dalí?
Josh Frank brings the legendary unproduced movie to printed life

Wayne Alan Brenner, March 22, 2019

What If <i>The Texas Chain Saw Massacre</i> Was Really About the Horrors of Modern American Society?
What If The Texas Chain Saw Massacre Was Really About the Horrors of Modern American Society?
Putting the Austin-made seminal slasher back into context

Marc Savlov, March 22, 2019

More by Mike Emery
Video Reviews
Cry-Baby
Cry-Baby is definitely one of the better Fifties flashbacks, thanks to Waters' flair for visuals and a vivid memory of the Eisenhower era.

Aug. 3, 2001

Video Reviews
American Psycho
Mary Harron's film adaptation of Bret Easton Ellis' novel, American Psycho, frequently hits the mark, thanks to leading man Christian Bale.

June 22, 2001

MORE IN THE ARCHIVES
NEWSLETTERS
One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

Eric Goodman's Austin FC column, other soccer news

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle