|MUSIC OF THE HEART (director: Wes Craven; screenwriters: Pamela Gray/based on the life story of Roberta Guaspari and inspired by the documentary ''Small Wonders''; cinematographer: Peter Deming; editor: Patrick Lussier; music: Mason Daring; cast: Meryl Streep (Roberta Guaspari), Aidan Quinn (Brian Sinclair), Gloria Estefan (Isabel Vasquez), Angela Bassett (Janet Williams), Jane Leeves (Dorothea von Haeften), Cloris Leachman (Assunta Guaspari), Kieran Culkin (Teen-Age Lexi), Charlie Hofheimer (Teen-Age Nick), Josh Pais (Dennis Rausch); Runtime: 134; MPAA Rating: PG; producers: Marianne Maddalena/Walter Scheuer/Allan Miller/Susan Kaplan; Miramax; 1999)|
|"The vacuous but well-meaning
pic is poorly executed and seems as if it
were a TV movie."
by Dennis Schwartz
soppy feel-good story about a teacher making
educational connections with her ghetto students. It
goes against the grain for horror pic maven Wes Craven
("Nightmare on Elm Street"/"Cursed"/"Red Eye").
If he was on a steady diet of such bland films, he
might be a teacher instead of a film-maker. The pic is
based on the true story of violinist Roberta
Guaspari (Meryl Streep), who
after ditched by her Navy hubby in 1988 chooses to
teach music to the minority kids in East Harlem and
soon moves into the neighborhood with her kids. The
vacuous but well-meaning pic is poorly executed and
seems as if it were a TV movie. It's based on
the 1996 Academy Award-nominated documentary
“Small Wonders,” by Allen and Lana Miller, “Music
of the Heart.” The screenplay is by Pamela Gray.
Bassett plays the overworked school
principal. Aidan Quinn is
Meryl's old school friend that she hooks up with
again in a brief fling. Josh Pais
is the school's cynical music teacher. Salsa pop
star Gloria Estefan has an
inconsequential role in her film debut.
pic culminates with Fiddlefest,
a charity concert at Carnegie Hall, featuring violin
luminaries Isaac Stern and Itzhak
Perlman to raise funds to continue the music
program after budget cuts eliminated it. It seemed
as if Hollywood, of all people, was giving us a
lecture on doing the right thing. Despite my
misgivings, Streep still was splendid and the kids
were fine. The professional supporting actors just
seemed to be going through the motions in a pic that
is better at making a point than entertaining.
REVIEWED ON 9/3/2015 GRADE: C+
Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"
© ALL RIGHTS RESERVED DENNIS SCHWARTZ