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Music of the Heart

Director:Wes Craven
Writer:Pamela Gray
Miramax; PG; 110 minutes
Release:10/99
Cast:Meryl Streep, Aidan Quinn, Angela Bassett

Armed with 50 violins and a determination to jumpstart a life sidetracked by divorce, Roberta Guaspari (Meryl Streep) ends up in East Harlem. An old flame has convinced tough-but-compassionate elementary school principal Janet Williams (Angela Bassett) to give Guaspari a chance teaching minority kids the instrument.

Horror director Wes Craven sidesteps into the sentimental with Music of the Heart, but he draws a top-notch performance out of Streep. Her character is entirely believable, down to the New York accent. The script, however, is mired in cliche. Underdeveloped romances clutter the story, which is essentially about real-life Guaspari's inspirational East Harlem Violin Project and the lives it touched. Guaspari's story was also told in the documentary Small Wonders.