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Maestro: The Perfect Study Of Love

Maestro is an engrossing and dreadful study on love, using time to create a story that sticks with you long after watching it.

Maestro: The Perfect Study Of Love

Bradley Cooper is back in the director’s chair following A Star is Born with Maestro. The most interesting thing about Maestro is the fact that it could have just been a biopic about Leonard Bernstein and his career yet the final product is an unexpected study of the love between both Felicia Montealegre and Bernstein. 

The story spans over decades and manages to keep the audience not only invested in the characters but engaged in the details of the relationship. The key to this is the amazing and pretty much perfect performances by Cary Mulligan and Bradley Cooper.

The film takes place over so many decades that the relationship becomes one that you feel a part of. Every heartbreak and breakthrough feels like a stab in the heart and this is all because of the performances. Though they might not win, both leads deserve nominations for their performances as they transcend just playing people but project the heart of the film onto the hearts of the audience.

Maestro: The Perfect Study Of Love

As the film spans over decades the love feels represented by every other element as well. The costume design in particular is nearly always the first sign of a new decade and the design of the pair’s clothing feels just as important as the characters themselves. Specifically a blue dress and suit that both Leonard and Felicia wear is during what is the peak yet the downfall of their relationship. Those moments felt so small while watching the film but looking back those key relationship moments are where the film succeeds.

The biggest fallout of Maestro is the pacing. Though the relationship is at the forefront, the pacing feels very similar to everything else in the biopic genre – which would work if a general
biopic was what the film shot for but since there was such a priority on the element of love, the other general elements felt like a waste of time.

On the other hand I believe the biggest success of the film sat with how the makeup evolved over the course of the movie. Though the film comes in at just over 2 hours, at times it feels over three hours long, in a good way. Weirdly enough the short runtime but quickly passing time makes the love story engrossing in a way that I was not expecting.

Maestro: The Perfect Study Of Love

Every technical aspect of this film is also perfect. Shot on 35mm color and black-and-white, though there are a few very ambitious sequences the film for the most part is static, but in a good way. The opening has some of the most ambitious camera work of the year which works because of how young Cooper’s character is at that point but as Cooper and Mulligan’s characters get older, slower, and more settled, so does the camera.

Cooper behind the camera seems to fully understand not only the point of view aspect of Leonard Bernstein but also point of view of the relationship. Carey Mulligan and Bradley Cooper have a presence that feels like it drives every element of the movie, never being limited to just what is on screen.

Thematically the film converses about art vs love, specifically if both can coexist – being just over 2 hour long my worry going in was that the focus on the themes would be convoluted by the relationship or vice versa but the writing plays into the themes and relationship perfectly.

This was also aided by the influence of Bernstein’s actual family being part of the process when creating this film. Overall Maestro is an engrossing and dreadful study on love – using time to create a story that sticks with you long after watching it.

Rating: 8.5 out of 10

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Maestro movie poster

About Maestro

Maestro is a towering and fearless love story chronicling the lifelong relationship between cultural icon Leonard Bernstein and Felicia Montealegre Cohn Bernstein. A love letter to life and art, Maestro, at its core, is an emotionally epic portrayal of family and love.

Maestro In Select Theaters November 22 and on Netflix December 20.