Music of the Heart, 1999

Wes Craven directed this touching film about a teacher who wants to teach violin to kids in an East Harlem school, but has to fight for her students as the school board tries to close down her music program due to budget limitations. It was a severe departure from the usual fare by director Wes Craven, who is known for A Nightmare on Elm Street and the Scream movies.

Meryl Streep’s performance as Roberta Guaspari was inspiring. Roberta’s story was told in a memorable way, including scenes filmed in Carnegie Hall. Sandra Park not only performed as herself, but also taught Meryl Streep violin lessons for this film. Also performing as themselves were: Arnold Steinhardt, Isaac Stern, Mark O’Connor, Michael Tree, Charles Veal Jr., Karen Briggs, Itzhak Perlman, Diane Monroe, Joshua Bell, and Jonathan Feldman.

The many child actors performed with spunk and delighted me with their talents. How amazing it would’ve been as a child violinist to be on the Carnegie Hall stage with the above list of mega-violinists.

Cloris Leachman played Roberta’s mother, Assunta Guaspari. I’ve enjoyed Cloris Leachman’s acting for many years. She’s won more Emmy awards than any other actor. Beautiful Angela Bassett gave me no surprises. She played Principal Janet Williams with directness and energy.