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Maestro Review: Bradley Cooper Brings His A-Game

Maestro works as well as it down because of how much heart and soul Bradley Cooper put into this film. It tells a story of love and passion.

Maestro movie review

Maestro is as good as it is because of Bradley Cooper, there is no denying that. Not only does he star in the lead role as Leonard Bernstein, he directs. It becomes clear from the very start of the film that he has a passion for this story, which is both beautiful and heartbreaking. Many will know his work, but not many will know what this man actually went through, and what his life was like. 

Cooper does a wonderful job making the audience instantly care about Leonard Bernstein. It becomes easy to fall in love with him, as it seems many did throughout his life.

Maestro: The Perfect Study Of Love

As the synopsis points out, Maestro is a towering and fearless love story chronicling the lifelong relationship between cultural icon Leonard Bernstein and Felicia Montealegre Cohn Bernstein (Carey Mulligan). The two might not have perfect chemistry on screen, but it is seen in glimpses, which honestly is the whole point of the story.

As someone who knew nothing about the real life story of the Bernsteins, it was easy to be intrigued and captivated by every more. This feels like a love story of the ages, but a heartbreaking one once you learn who Leonard is on the inside and then remember the times he lived in.

It is in these deeply personal and emotional moments that Bradley Cooper shines. That isn’t to say that the other story beats and plot points aren’t interesting, but you’ve seen one orchestra performance, you’ve seen them all (at least in my opinion). When the audience feels as if it is being let in on a little secret, and seeing the more intimate side of Bernstein, that is when Maestro works best.

Maestro movie review

It doesn’t feel overly stuffed, but it still could use some trimming up. Even clocking in at a runtime of two hours, the orchestra performances easily could have been shortened just a tad to help keep the story on track. Because, like mentioned above, it is when we are living Bernstein’s personal life with him that the movie works.

The choice to switch back and forth between using black and white and color is not a new one, but a smart one. The black and white represents Bernstein’s younger years, while the color pops in towards the end of his life. 

Maestro movie review

Bradley Cooper very much steals the show, as he should in a movie like this. Carey Mulligan is great as well, but this isn’t so much Felicia’s movie as it is Leonard’s. That said, there are some particularly powerful scenes between the two lovers when she overshadows him — again, that really is done to make a point. Cooper’s direction helps this movie to shine, even if just for a little bit. 

For those who know the story of Leonard Bernstein, I can’t say for sure how you will feel about this film, but for those who learn his life and struggles through Maestro, it is easy to become captivated. This is largely in part due to Cooper’s direction just as much as it is due to his performance. Often when a person wears multiple hats in the making of a film, one side can start to give, but that did not happen with Maestro solidifying just how good Bradley Cooper is at his job(s).

Rating: 3 out of 5

NEXT: Maestro Filmmakers Discuss Working With Bradley Cooper

Maestro movie poster

About Maestro

From Director Bradley Cooper, Maestro is the 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.