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Film Review: Maestro (2023)

Kelaru & Fulton rating: ★★★★

Available on Netflix | Runtime: 2 hrs 9 mins


 

Bradley Cooper's Maestro is a cinematic tribute that delves deep into the life of

Leonard Bernstein, a character whose rounded portrayal resonates with authenticity and complexity. Cooper, as director and protagonist, brings to life the multi-faceted Bernstein with a passion that is both palpable and profoundly respectful of the maestro's legacy.



The film is a journey through Bernstein's life, marked by five major musical sequences that transcend mere performance. These moments are emotional landscapes, showcasing Cooper's sensitivity and deep understanding of music's power, making Maestro an audio-visual symphony that echoes Bernstein's soul.


At the heart of the narrative is the intricate relationship between Bernstein, portrayed with nuanced vibrancy by Cooper, and his wife Felicia Montealegre, embodied by Carey Mulligan. Their characters are relatable in their struggles, displaying a spectrum of emotions from kindness and love to moments of insincerity and harshness. This dynamic adds a rich layer of drama, making them feel more human and less like distant historical figures.



The film’s production design and cinematography are remarkable, capturing the grandeur of Bernstein's professional world and the intimacy of his personal life. These settings are not mere backdrops but active participants in the storytelling, reflecting the ethos of the era and Bernstein's inner world.


Cooper's portrayal of Bernstein does not shy away from his complexities. The film presents Bernstein as a figure of great impact, not only in music but in cinema as well, without succumbing to blind admiration. It acknowledges Bernstein's flaws and questionable decisions, offering a balanced view of his life. Felicia, far from being a mere supportive figure, is shown with her own strengths and flaws, contributing to some of the most heart-crushing conversations ever put on screen.


While Maestro follows a somewhat formulaic structure, it does so without compromising the depth and realism of its characters. The supervision of Bernstein’s family ensures authenticity, delivering a clear understanding of the artist's struggles, the misconceptions of the 1950s in the US, and the complexities of his personal life. The film is a testament to Cooper’s passion for Bernstein's music, supported by fantastic acting and a score that complements the narrative beautifully.


Maestro is not your typical biopic; it's a poignant exploration of Bernstein’s life and legacy. The film balances grand musical sequences with intimate, complex storytelling, driven by outstanding performances from Cooper and Mulligan. It's a heartfelt, emotionally resonant portrayal of one of the greatest musical minds, reflecting both his genius and his humanity.



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