Reviewed by: Judith Lebel
If you enjoy movies about teachers who make a difference in students' lives, then I would recommend “Mr. Holland’s Opus”.
In this film, an aspiring composer (Richard Dreyfuss) takes on a job as a music teacher to pay his bills until he can “make it big” with his compositions. After initially having trouble connecting with the students, Mr. Holland slowly discovers that he has a gift for teaching the kids an appreciation of music. He often has to battle the school administrators who don’t approve of his using rock-and-roll as a teaching tool, and who threaten to cut the music program in order to reduce costs.
There is an interesting subplot concerning Mr. Holland’s son, Cole, who is deaf. Mr. Holland can’t seem to connect with his son because he feels there is no way that Cole could ever share his love for music. It takes the death of a popular musician to bring the father and son together. Mr. Holland then looks for ways to reach out musically to the deaf students in the community by adding visual aids to his performances.
I do have some reservations when recommending this film. Firstly, there is some brief dialog between husband and wife about “marital relations.” There is also a subplot where Mr. Holland is inappropriately attracted to a female student. In one scene, Cole angrily gestures to Mr. Holland who is informed by his wife that it is sign language for an obscene word. Lastly, as the movie is showing how the students change during the 30+ year span that the story covers, there is a brief image of two male students holding hands.
“Mr. Holland’s Opus” is a heartwarming story that will bring both laughter and tears, and certainly one of the best films of 1995.