Music Of The Heart

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Music Of The Heart

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Wes Craven has been trying to leave the horror genre behind for at least a decade, but until Music Of The Heart, he had only the abysmal, short-lived sitcom The People Next Door to show for it. With his latest film, Craven finally gets an opportunity to escape the strictures of horror, and while the results aren't as embarrassing as his forays into television, there's still little that would link Music Of The Heart to his other work. A plucky-teacher tale mixed with a light dose of struggling-single-mother drama, the film stars Meryl Streep as a divorced single mother who packs up her two children and heads off to New York to teach violin to children in an inner-city school. There, she ends up transforming both her own life and those of her students. Although Streep's character is based on an actual Harlem violin teacher whose work was the subject of the 1996 documentary Small Wonders, just about everything here fits snugly into the spunky-teacher-overcomes-the-odds template of such crowd-pleasing movies as Mr. Holland's Opus and Dangerous Minds. Not unlike many of the hard-working student violinists it chronicles, Craven's film has all the notes and positions down, yet lacks that crucial spark that separates the competent from the great. Craven captures every last scrappy-teacher cliché, from troubled students with tempestuous home lives to beaming faces of parents as they watch their children perform, but he never makes it all add up to something substantial. And while it's difficult to criticize a film with its heart so clearly in the right place, Music Of The Heart is ultimately yet another Hollywood movie that transforms an inspiring true-life story into sappy, saccharine, conventional filler.

Filed Under: Film

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