There's nothing mushy about Meryl Streep's performance in the treacly-named Music of the Heart (how could you pick that over 50 Violins, the previous title?). She transcends the cliched cranky-teacher-with-a-heart-of-gold role by allowing us to glimpse the real Roberta Guaspari in her performance. I was constantly reminded of my Year 9 and 10 maths teacher. He also covered up concern for his students, and pride when they excelled, with surface bluster and strict discipline. Mr Dalton was always genuine in his praise, and it was hard-won, so he could inspire real effort.Guaspari is not a violin teacher in a poor Harlem school by choice -not in the beginning, anyway. She's completely lost after her husband leaves her for another woman and, in her words, she's a single mother who needs a job. You also sense that Guaspari would just as happily not be there - push her too far and she'll walk - which gives Streep's performance an edge. The first half of the film resolves Guaspari's will-she-or-won't-she dilemma, before jumping 10 years. Funding cuts threaten the existence of Guaspari's violin program, until she organises "Fiddlefest", a benefit concert at Carnegie Hall.We're well into feelgood territory by now, but horror director Wes Craven manages against the odds to make this true story seem real. It's hard not to be moved when Streep (who learned the violin for this role) and some of the kids are onstage at Carnegie Hall, flanked by famous violinists (playing themselves). The supporting cast includes Aidan Quinn, Cloris Leachman, Gloria Estefan (in her acting debut) and the irrepressible Angela Bassett, but Streep outshines them all. You won't hate yourself for succumbing to Music of the Heart - it's the best inspirational-teacher flick that Hollywood's produced in ages.