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Music of the Heart

reviewed by Vivan Rose, age 14, from US

"Music of the Heart" is a wonderful film starring Meryl Streep as a New York City violin teacher. One critic I know sarcastically referred to "Music of the Heart" as "Mrs. Holland's Opus" but I told him to shut up.

Yes, "Music of the Heart" is quite similar to "Mr. Holland's Opus", but, who cares? Besides, "Music of the Heart" was supposedly based on a true story.

Streep plays Roberta Guaspari, a woman whose husband ditches her and their two young children when he runs off with her friend. Depressed, she wallows in self-pity for a while, until her mother tells her she has to get a job. After trying an unsuccessful stint as a package-wrapper, she takes a job teaching violin to children in an inner- city New York school.

At first, she meets with some opposition--most of the other teachers don't like her (Gloria Estefan and Angela Bassett play her only real friends in the school), and some of the children's parents are reluctant to teach their kids "dead white men's music". Additionally her past teaching experience is limited. Some parents also get upset because she tells the kids "That stinks!" when they play badly. (Personally, I saw nothing wrong with her brutally honest approach. My music teacher does that all the time to make her students practice.)

Eventually, her program becomes very popular, but after ten years, the school budget is slashed--no more music. Roberta decides to give a benefit concert to raise money for the program, and that ends up being quite a show (many real musicians make cameo appearances as themselves).

The only problem with the plot is that it's unfinished as far as Roberta's romantic life is concerned. At the end, she is involved with a college professor, who naturally attends her big concert, but then an old boyfriend from the past (Mel Gibson lookalike Aidan Quinn) shows up as well. Although at the end, they flash a few paragraphs about what Roberta is doing now, neither boyfriend is mentioned.

Some people might pick on this movie for being a bit unrealistic (just how many music teachers end up performing with their students at Carnegie Hall?) or overdone, but I didn't think so. I actually liked the happy ending (and I'm also usually the first to complain about sadistically happy endings, so that's really a compliment from me). Streep and the other actors were excellent. "Music of the Heart" is a terrific, well- acted, and well-plotted movie.

Rating: PG

Discuss "Music of the Heart" or Vivian's review at Cyberkids Connection.

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