||An entertaining way to spend a couple of hours, but not as entertaining or
inspiring as other movies in the same vein.
Not so inspiring as I had hoped. I generally like this kind
of story, with a new teacher learning how to cope with difficult students.
Except that Roberta didn't really have much trouble with her students, and she
seemed to be a fine teacher from the start, even if she was harsh.
That harshness gave us some good moments, though, like when
the students don't like her being nice -that her harshness "added variety" to
their school day. And her contrast to the head of the music department, who was
singing "C-D-D-C-D-D-C" as he was marking exams while the students practiced,
was quite hilarious.
The difficulties that she experienced included students who
were not interested in violin, and hence were not dedicated enough for her.
None of the kids practiced enough. I played guitar for three years, and I
practiced, so I know the feeling of disappointment the teacher can give
out when she notices -and they can always tell. Other students always show up
late, another kind of dedication problem.
But the other kinds of difficulties are never dealt with in
enough detail. There is the kid who is pulled from the class because his mother
thinks it's a white-man's art form. She gets him back by throwing the mother's
words back at her at a later time. There is the girl who needs leg braces to
stand -she ends up sitting while playing. One girl's father was hitting her
mother, and so family services make them leave the city. And so on. We get a
lot of sad faces, and a couple of short scenes dealing with them, but it seems
to show us that there is nothing much she can do about it. And then we move on.
The only one that I felt some repercussion from was the boy who was
inadvertently killed in a drive-by shooting. His classmate had told him to
"drop dead" just that afternoon, and thinks it's his fault. She manages to
convince him otherwise ("I don't think you're that powerful" or else he'd be a
genius with the violin was a great line), but we never hear about it again,
Roberta's family life was not all that interesting.
Her husband had left her for some young girl, and even after he dumps the girl,
he doesn't come back. A chance encounter with an old school friend leads her to
apply for a job at an inner city elementary school, where she is at first
rejected, but is finally accepted when her two kids audition on the violin for
her. I didn't think it was enough to get her the job, but it got the point
Right after she sleeps with her old friend, we find out what
the threat of commitment does to him. He's off for weeks, even months at a
time, researching books that he's writing. Finally, when she's doing well, and
buys a house, asks him to move in, he balks and she "fires" him. Ten years
later, her kids send out an ad for a man for her, but she still doesn't want to
get involved. Her two kids were cute as youngsters, and seemed to grow up
It is after ten years pass that the emotional crunch of the
film starts, where her music program is cut from the curriculum. She fights it
with a benefit concert, recruiting some really big names and ending up playing
at Carnegie Hall! She also invites her oldest and best students to play with
them, including DeShaun, who originally thought the violin was for sissies, and
the same boy whose mother didn't want him playing white-man's music.
The concert was pretty good, though not great. I much
preferred the similarly themed Mr. Holland's Opus as far as concerts go. As for
teachers trying to win over a tough class, To Sir, With Love is the classic to
which all others are compared, and this one doesn't compare at all.
Still, I became involved in the story when they were
organizing the concert, and the small battles she had to fight to get it going.
The acting was pretty good, and held up through the film. The characters could
be passionate, and I wonder if it wasn't the material that let them down.
This was a movie that I could have taken or left. It's a good
thing that I watched it on TV, because I barely cared afterwards that it was
over. Still, it had its inspiring moments, its funny moments, and its emotional
ones, too. They just lacked something passionate to bond them.