Cinema: Music Of The Heart

Directed by Wes Craven

It is one of our ruling urban legends: the "true" and "inspiring" story of a passionate teacher and the rowdy inner-city kids who succumb to the pedagogue's tough love and succeed despite overwhelming odds. In this case, they are a Harlem violin ensemble achieving a Carnegie Hall concert that saves their program from budget cuts. What saves this movie from hopeless sentimentality is Meryl Streep's subtle performance as the teacher, hinting at all kinds of neuroses sublimated in her gnarly relations with the kids.

--By Richard Schickel


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