Director: Bradley Cooper | Writer: Josh Singer

Starring: Bradley Cooper, Carey Mulligan

Year: 2023 | IMDb: 6.7/10

The first part of the first sentence of this film’s IMDb summary says it all; this is a love story. It’s not a musical, it’s not a biopic, it’s not musical biopic, it’s a love story, and that’s why it can become great. Biopics are cheap, easy, and conceited, not for the subject, but for the filmmaker, and that’s exactly what I was afraid was being set up for Maestro; Bradley Cooper’s conceit. I am overjoyed to tell you that this is simply not the case. This film is a romance and a peek into the secrets of others; a look at the life of a grand figure, yes, but not merely that, and not specifically that, not at all. This is a journey through the history of a couple, and that’s where all the magic happens, making this movie something special, something more than cinema, something about love.

Leonard Bernstein might be America’s first great conductor, and he might be one of our best composers, but there’s more to him beneath the surface, an infinite amount of people and personalities all waiting to break free and make music and live their lives. Leonard met Felicia at a party and fell in love, but that’s only the merest hint of their story, and of his sexuality, persona, and purpose. Their marriage would become a New York sensation, and their lives would be rich with wealth, fame, and children. But Leonard’s not-so-secret secret and Felicia’s sacrifices would threaten their idyllic existence, and tempt the curious noses of the press. But above all, the way they loved each other rose above the stardom and the scandal, creating something beautiful that so many long for and so few reach.

Assuming is bad, we know that, but you can’t help forming an idea of what you’re about to see before you see it. I heard Bradley Cooper, Netflix, black & white, musical biopic, Leonard Bernstein, Oscar buzz, and I concluded that I already knew this movie was no good. Thank god I was wrong, and thank Cooper for creating something so surprising. He did a little of everything with this film, he’s the true master behind this movement, he was sink or swim with its result, and he should be extremely proud of what he was able to accomplish. Maestro is lovely, on every level, and not just because it has quality music or interesting shots or artistic expressions, which it has in abundance, but because it has real heart, and it keeps that heart at the very center of everything.

This is a love story, this isn’t a famous man and his throwaway wife, this is the true history and passion of these two people, and it is fascinating to watch. Both Cooper and Mulligan deserve every accolade, every nomination, because they were both just brilliant. I have rarely seen such acting as Mulligan showcased. I have rarely been transported away from such a heavily transfigured actor the way I was from Cooper, as he became Bernstein. And I am utterly pleased to say that I don’t often feel this emotionally attached to a story about two people I have no attachment to. Maestro is a grand retelling of a heartwarming tale and a clever view into the mind of a genius, both an enticing and fulfilling film that will assuredly win its fair share this season, because its share is vast.

My rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆


By ochippie

Writer, Critic, Dad Columbus, Ohio, USA Denver Broncos, St. Louis Cardinals Colorado Avalanche, Duke Blue Devils