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Music of the Heart
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Music of the Heart More at IMDbPro »

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37 out of 41 people found the following review useful:

standard but moving story

Author: Roland E. Zwick ( from United States
31 July 2000

I must confess that I approached `Music of the Heart' with a great deal of fear and trepidation. I really had no desire to subject myself to what I envisioned to be a 124-minute barrage of inspirational life messages and feel-good sentimentality. What a pleasant surprise then to discover this to be a genuinely moving and heartwarming true-life tale of an extraordinary teacher, Roberta Gaspari, and her equally extraordinary students.

In plot, `Music of the Heart' doesn't deviate much from the standard formula common to such films. We have, first, the neophyte white middle class schoolteacher, plunged into the heart of a problem-ridden inner city Harlem school, filled with burnt-out teachers who have learned to expect little (and thereby garner little) from the youngsters placed in their charge and children themselves whose troubled home lives provide little in the way of a nurturing environment for academic achievement. We encounter the predictable first-day stumbles of this headstrong, idealistic newcomer as the students challenge her authority and the relevance of her violin class in no uncertain terms; we see how, through discipline and the sheer force of her own determination, she eventually connects them to the music they are learning to play, building their self-confidence and slowly winning the respect of their often skeptical, and, occasionally, downright hostile parents in the process. Then comes the great challenge, as the school board, after ten successful years in which the program has earned a sizable reputation and even been featured in magazine articles, pulls the plug on the funding. Thanks to the sheer determination of Gaspari, the parents whose children's lives have been forever altered, a magazine writer and the voluntary participation of a number of the world's premiere violinists (a large number of whom appear as themselves in the film), the group stages an amazing fundraising concert at Carnegie Hall, the proceeds from which save the program and help ensure its survival for the next several years.

One of the chief reasons that `Music of the Heart' does not dissolve (as it so easily might have) into a puddle of goopy tears lies in the matter-of-fact interpretation of the main character that both writer, Pamela Gray, and actress, Meryl Streep, bring to bear on the role. At no time is Roberta ever portrayed as a saintly figure. In fact, she is a woman filled with all sorts of insecurities and vulnerabilities, exacerbated by the devastating sense of bewilderment and loss caused by the unexpected termination of her marriage and her seeming need to be dependent on a man for comfort, support and a sense of purpose. She is often overbearing, pushy and pigheaded and not just in the classroom where it counts, but also in her personal life where it often alienates her from the ones she loves most. Yet, somehow out of this mass of self-doubts and personal missteps, she finds the inner strength and emotional wherewithal to work miracles. Streep throws herself so completely into the role that we cannot take our eyes off her for a single one of the film's 120 enthralling minutes (and I doubt that she is ever off screen for more than a few seconds in the entire film). It is a truly glowing performance.

Equally impressive, director Wes Craven is to be highly commended for drawing such an impressive array of credible, down-to-earth performances from a large cast of outstanding preteen actors. Thanks to them and an air of naturalism in the dialogue, the scenes between the youngsters and their teacher always ring true and believable.

I defy anyone - even the most tone deaf, musically disinterested member of the audience - not to be deeply touched by the final scenes of this film. Craven, from all his years doing those slasher films I suppose, really knows how to generate a sense of suspense as we follow the pre-show behind-the-scenes preparations of the nail-biting participants. The recreated concert itself, with a number of the real life participants brought back to play for the occasion, is utterly engrossing and leaves the audience both rheumy-eyed and covered with goose bumps. Well, maybe "Music of the Heart" is, after all, filled with the `inspirational life messages' and `feel-good sentimentality' I so dreaded at the outset of the film. That being the case, I guess that isn't such a bad thing after all!

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27 out of 30 people found the following review useful:

Inspiring, Heart-warming Film Thanks To Meryl Streep

Author: Steve Richmond ( from Brea, Ca. USA
22 November 1999

Meryl Streep was made for the part of Roberta Guaspari, a woman who is convinced she can teach ghetto chidren to play the violin, one of the most difficult of all instruments to learn. Against all odds, she perseveres to convince the parents of the valuable lessons that can be learned through music. If you liked Mr. Holland's Opus, chances are that you will love Music of the Heart. Meryl Streep makes this movie work although she gets some acting help from Aidan Quinn, Angela Bassett and Cloris Leachman. Even though it is a little overly dramatic at times, it still touches you with its message and its spirit.

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25 out of 29 people found the following review useful:

A wonderful, wonderful movie for any music-lover, one of the very few I rate "10"!

Author: TxMike from Houston, Tx, USA, Earth
4 August 2000

Even though I had been wanting to see "Music of the Heart" for a while now, and I expected to like it, I didn't expect it to be one of my favorites of all time. Which it now is.

Meryl Streep, in the lead role, is nothing short of fantastic. She studied violin virtually every day, for 2 to 4 hours a day, for 3 months because she insisted on doing all her on-screen playing. She was so good that duing warm-up for the Carnegie Hall scene, famous violinists Issac Stern and Jascha Heifitz stood in amazement at how good she was. Watching the movie, I honestly became unaware that she was an "actress" in a movie, and that seldom happens with me.

The most enjoyable scenes were those showing young children make music. And the Carnegie Hall performance, with all those real-world virtuoso violinists, is one of the most moving scenes imaginable, when you consider what had transpired leading up to it.

This movie is based on the real story of a real music teacher in Harlem. It is a wonderful story of how one person through love and persistence can affect so many in such a positive way. This movie, unlike most, will stay with me for a long, long time.

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20 out of 24 people found the following review useful:

Outstanding biopic about one of the bravest teachers of all time

Author: Catherine_Grace_Zeh from Fairfax, Virginia, USA
19 January 2006

MUSIC OF THE HEART, in my opinion, is an outstanding biopic about one of the bravest teachers of all time. The performances were smashing, the soundtrack was great, and the casting was just right. Anyway, if you ask me, it was brave of Roberta (Meryl Streep) to take a stand to keep the music program in all Harlem schools. I would probably take a stand myself if I were in her shoes. In conclusion, if you are a die-hard fan of Meryl Streep, Gloria Estefan, or Angela Bassett, I heartily recommend this outstanding biopic about one of the bravest teachers of all time. You're in for a real treat and a good time, so don't miss this one.

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19 out of 23 people found the following review useful:

an inspirational film that will touch everyone

Author: Michael Sibley
6 September 2004

"Music Of The Heart" is an awe-inspiring film that contains outstanding performances from every single actor and actress in the film. From Meryl Streep to Angela Bassett and Aidan Quinn to Gloria Estefan as well as the extras, the actors made "Music Of The Heart" a wonderful film.

Meryl Streep is exceptional in the role of the true life violin teacher who deserves most of the credit for this superbly performed film. The way that Along with Angela Bassett, Gloria Estefan and Aidan Quinn, "Music Of The Heart" is a success.

I particularly enjoyed the scene in which her former students came into the classroom to inspire her current students to doing their best in their concert. However, the best part of the whole film was at Carnegie Hall when the children performed in front of their parents and alongside world renownd violinists such as Itzhak Perlman.

Finally, Hollywood has recognized an excellent true story and brought it to the silver screen. I cannot begin to tell everyone what a movie this was to watch. I can't begin to tell everyone that the performances brought out every positive emotion.

Along the same lines as "Mr Holland's Opus," "Music Of The Heart" follows the life of violin teacher, Roberta Gaspiaurdi from the inception of the music program she created.

"Music Of The Heart" is a film that touched my heart and inspired me into really looking inside myself and want to do charity for others. I highly recommend this movie to everyone because it will move, touch, and inspire.

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18 out of 24 people found the following review useful:

A truly amazing movie that is actually Wes Craven's best film.

Author: mhasheider from Sauk City, Wisconsin
24 October 2000

Can you picture this odd couple: Meryl Streep stars in a Wes Craven movie? Seems like a joke at first, but it really isn't. "Music of the Heart" is the second film that horror director Wes Craven has made and surpasses his first non-horror film, "Vampire in Brooklyn".

It based on the life of Roberta Guaspari (Streep), a violin teacher who moves to East Harlem with her two sons after her husband left her for another woman. Roberta starts a program of her own, teaching young kids how to play the violin. One mother of one of her students describes it as "dead white man music", but Roberta uses the late Arthur Ashe, who was black and a great tennis player as a great example. In another scene, the mother tells Roberta that she was right.

Ten years later, Roberta has taught over a thousand children how to play the violin and some of her former students have either gone onto college or become violinists. A problem surfaces, the superintendent and board of education have made budget cuts. Roberta is told by Janet Williams (Angela Bassett), the princpal that the music program has been cut.

So Roberta vows to keep the program alive and gets the idea of having a benefit concert. She gets help from some of her friends and some parents to help promote the concert and the place where it'll be held. Bad news, the first place where the concert is going to be held in has a flood. The only other place that is mentioned is Carnegie Hall in Philadelphia.

The concert scene is one of the best scenes in the movie. Some of Roberta's first students come back to join some of current her pupils. Also, some of the best-known violinists in the world have come as well, Issac Stern, Mark O'Connor, Arnold Steinhardt, and Itzhak Perlman are among them. Watching O'Connor play was fun to see. I admit that is the concert is memorable and great to watch as the one put up in "The Blues Brothers".

The emotional energy in this film never lets down at one moment. Bassett, Quinn, and Jay O. Sanders are good in their supporting roles. The movie is great and it stays with the story. Wes Craven deserved an Oscar nomination for Best Director and Streep is great.

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10 out of 10 people found the following review useful:

Unabashedly Feel Good -- But What's Wrong with That?

Author: evanston_dad from United States
29 June 2010

Wes Craven (yes, THAT Wes Craven) directed this inspirational biopic about Roberta Guaspari (Meryl Streep), who started a music program in an impoverished inner city middle school that eventually went on to win national attention and acclaim.

This film treads awfully close to made-for-T.V. territory, but Streep is such a good actress that she keeps a tight grip on the runaway sentimentality that's always present in the screenplay. But in any case, who cares? This IS a feel good story, and it's a good enough movie that you can simply give in to letting it make you feel good without also making you feel guilty by being suckered.

Grade: B+

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5 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

One of the best movies of all time

Author: Samantha Jones-Hart from United Kingdom
4 December 2006

I happened to be clicking through the channels & this was on. I was instantly hooked mainly because of Meryl (I had heard so much about her). She's so great in this movie. I cried when she cried & I actually felt myself drawn in. Incredible. I could watch this a million times & never tire of it. It is an absolute gem! so you know, Meryl Streep is one of my favourites now!(I can't believe she didn't win!!) The music was great to listen to (The real life musicians were a real bonus)& now I wish I could play the violin! This movie has had a powerful impact on me mainly because I knew it was a true story. If you are looking for a movie about real-life issues you can watch with all your family or alone this is highly recommended. If only Hollywood made more movies like this one.

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5 out of 7 people found the following review useful:

My clothes are soaking in sappiness

Author: Sherlock Jr. from USA
12 November 2000

The acting jobs are good. But how Streep got an Oscar nod for this, I will never know. I've seen this movie before. It's been done many times. I never knew how many cliches can be in one film until I saw this. And since I really didn't like Streep's role, it is kind of hard to get into the movie. And it clearly copied from a better film called, "Mr. Holland's Opus." Wes Craven although not a bad horror film director, should never be allowed to direct or have anything to do with a real dramatic film. "Music of the Heart" also seems to drag about 40 minutes too long. It is a heart warming, everything is okay movie. You know everything will work out, because you saw this this movie before only under a different name. 5 out of 10

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5 out of 7 people found the following review useful:

It's just sentimental

Author: Jed-3 from Rotterdam, The Netherlands
11 April 2000

This movie does not possess a single original moment. It boldly goes where everyone has been before. The acting is truly a disaster, and I am baffled that Meryl Streep received an Oscar nomination for this. A performance like this is Razzy material. "Music of the Heart" is also overly sentimental. I can't help thinking of "The Straight Story", an excellent example of a gripping and emotional story, that does not become a cheap tearjerker. Movies like "Music of the Heart" can spoil an evening.

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