Reality Bites?

Boys Don't Cry and Music of the Heart offer radically different approaches to true stories

That's not a tenet the film lives up to, however. For a film about the craft of the violin, the music is pitifully incidental. When the plot kicks into "let's put on a show" giddiness in preparation for the Carnegie gig, the soundtrack pipes in some of Estefan's bubblegum salsa. Music has it both ways: It allows the audience to endorse the symbolic notion of "classical music" as something that's good for kids while permitting us to deal with as little of the boring stuff as possible. When it comes time for the Carnegie Hall concert, we're treated to cute shots of kids mugging over Perlman's shoulder to make the medicine go down smoother.

One of the alternative school administrators interviewed in Small Wonders protests that "Art is not an instrument to teach something else." But in Music of the Heart, the arts are nothing more than a means to an end--to teach the kids discipline, to salvage Guaspari's psyche, to manipulate the sentiments of paying customers who are desperate for any hallmark of human goodness. If you genuinely support the practice of teaching the violin to inner-city kids, rather than the ennobling idea of it, I'm sure there are many worthy nonprofits who'd accept a tax-deductible gift. Or you could always get involved with your local school board.

 

TOP: Positively dreamy: Hilary Swank as Brandon Teena in Kimberly Peirce's Boys Don't CryBOTTOM: Teaching Mrs. Twaddle: Meryl Streep as Roberta Guaspari in Music of the Heart
TOP: Positively dreamy: Hilary Swank as Brandon Teena in Kimberly Peirce's Boys Don't Cry
BOTTOM: Teaching Mrs. Twaddle: Meryl Streep as Roberta Guaspari in Music of the Heart

Boys Don't Cry is playing at the Uptown Theatre and starts Friday at Lagoon Cinema;Music of the Heart starts Friday at area theaters.

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