Music of the Heart
Director: Wes Craven
Starring: Meryl Streep, Aidan Quinn, Gloria Estefan, Angela Bassett ...
Length: 124 minutes
Rated: PG (MPAA)
Studio: Miramax Films
John Boorman writes, “What is passion? It is surely the becoming of a person.”
Based on a true story and a documentary entitled “Small
Wonders,” this recent movie showcases the work of Roberta Guaspari, a dedicated music teacher known for creating a violin program in Harlem, which remains active
today. Meryl Streep plays the determined Guaspari, recently abandoned by her husband, a single mother desperate for work. Her desperation leads to inspiration,
fueled by a dream that had been plagued by false starts.
Guaspari’s intensity offers a wonderful look at passion and
its part in bringing a person’s gifts into the world. Guaspari’s driving force is music. She believes in it, lives it, teaches it, and invites those around her to catch the
fire that is burning deep within her. Even though she is initially turned down in her quest to land a teaching job in an alternative school in Harlem, her spirit is only
momentarily dampened. A day after her interview, she interrupts a meeting in the principal’s office, her two sons and their violins in tow, and orchestrates a mini concert
on the spot. She created the opening; she gets the job.
Nothing stops Guaspari in her quest to bring music to the
children. This is one fully engaged woman. She buys a house in Harlem, goes broke renovating it, hires ex-cons to do the work, and puts her heart and soul into teaching
inner-city kids to play the violin. She is a caring, firm, and decidedly no-nonsense teacher. The viewer learns that boundaries work, passion is contagious, and that
communities rally to support what is good for them. In the end, when the music program is slashed due to budget cuts, Isaac Stern and Itzhak Perlman perform with
her group of child musicians, in Carnegie Hall, no less, to raise money to keep the violin program going.
In addition to her driving passion, Guaspari was masterful
at creating a future. She reminded the children that music would positively affect their futures, and encouraged parents to support this “impossibility.”. She
never lost her vision, and she didn’t tire of repeating it to all who would listen. Her personal breakthroughs were apparent. And the kids! Well, watch the movie. In their
appearance at Carnegie Hall, they truly play from the heart, and get absorbed in their being-ness as musicians. Their breakthroughs are breathtaking! And we get to
witness the passion that is engendered by listening and responding from the heart.