Steven (Chris Gartin) is a wide- eyed, small-town 18-year-old who dreams of becoming a concert pianist. Fat chance: His dullard dad (James Stacy) wants him to take over the family hardware store and yells things like ”Steven, what are you doin’ playin’ that piano again — I thought I told you to rake the leaves!”

Fortunately for Steven, Hadley Norman, a world-famous pianist and composer, moves into town. Not only does she immediately recognize Steven’s musical talent, but she’s played by Jane Seymour, so the callow youth can lose his virginity as well as learn to play the piano better.

Riddled with preposterous coincidences and florid dialogue (”I’m gonna play piano around the world, and I’m gonna get paid for it!”), Matters of the Heart is a love story whose thin plot is bulked out by a number of things. First, Steven must have a series of bedroom scenes with Hadley. He murmurs sweet nothings like a pro, but alert viewers will probably remember that this is the same kid who, in the opening moments of the movie, was so nervous about kissing a local girl that he barfed all over his baffled date. Then, Steven must pull Hadley out of her terrible despair — you know she’s depressed because she drinks too much and says things like ”The only thing that’s important in life is connecting with another human being.” A little later, she moans, ”Art is meaningless,” inadvertently stating the USA Network’s TV-movie philosophy.

And finally, after learning that Hadley has cancer and will soon expire, Steven must win a nationwide competition, because it’s the only way Hadley will die happy. What happens? What do you think happens?

”You don’t choose music — music chooses you!” Seymour announces at one point. When it comes to television, readers, don’t let Matters of the Heart choose you. D-

Matters of the Heart
  • Music