Maestro - Review (London Film Festival 2023)
You Don't Know How Much You Need Me. 4 / 5
Directed by Bradley Cooper.
A portrait of Leonard Bernstein’s singular charisma and passion for music as he rose to fame as America’s first native born, world-renowned conductor.
An extravagant history lesson into the first great American conductor, the life of Leonard Bernstein is triumphantly brought to the screen by Bradley Cooper in Maestro.
In front and behind the camera Cooper stars, directs and writes this biopic of Bernstein showing his rise to fame with a focus on his marriage to Felicia Montealegre played by Carey Mulligan who steals the spotlight as the true heart of the film. The highs and lows of their relationship and how they shape each other's lives evolve with the film's setting and visual style - growing from picturesque black and white beginnings to visceral colour scenes.
Engaging but tonally complicated, it dips its does into fantastical moments during Bernstein's Broadway era and a showstopping scene set in a cathedral while also trying to balance the often harsh realities of living an extraordinary life. While it doesn't totally throw off the film's pace, it does take its time to settle into what kind of story it wants to tell.
Set to an expectedly grand score made up almost entirely of Bernstein's music, Maestro has all of the markings of this year's biopic submission to this year's Oscars. Nominations for both Cooper and Mulligan's performances as well as direction, makeup and sound design already feel like shoo-ins.
It doesn't hit the heights of Cooper's debut A Star is Born but Maestro is a showcase of seemingly unlimited talent, both for those involved in the creation of this film and the subject themselves.