Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Maestro (English) Movie Review: On the whole, MAESTRO has a few shortcomings but is worth watching.

MAESTRO is the story of an American composer and his relationship with his wife. In the year 1943, Leonard Bernstein (Bradley Cooper), 25, lives in New York City as assistant conductor to the New York Philharmonic. He gets a sudden chance to make his debut as a conductor when Bruno Walter falls ill. Leonard’s performance is well-received. This is when he has an affair with David Oppenheim (Matt Bomer). This relationship ends and later, he meets an aspiring actress, Felicia Montealegre (Carey Mulligan). Both date and soon get married. They have three children – Jamie (Maya Hawke), Alexander (Sam Nivola) and Nina (Alexa Swinton). As the years pass, both Leonard and Felicia become famous in their professions. Soon, cracks develop in their relationship due to Leonard’s homosexual tendencies as well as his alcohol and substance abuse. What happens next forms the rest of the film.

Bradley Cooper and Josh Singer’s story is simple and on paper, it might not have sounded like a cinematic treat. But Bradley Cooper and Josh Singer’s screenplay is replete with a lot of drama and stylish narration, which makes MAESTRO a grand biopic. But the novel script leaves a lot to be desired. The dialogues are fine. In the scenes where Bradley is holding a cigarette in his mouth, it becomes a struggle to decipher his dialogues (Thank God for subtitles).

Bradley Cooper’s direction is technically supreme. A part of the film is in Black-and-White. Also, a major portion of the film is in 1.33:1 aspect ratio. The impact of a few shots is enhanced with the use of music. Moreover, the scene where Leonard and his team play the Symphony No. 2 (Resurrection) is in one take and is seen to be believed.

On the flipside, the makers try to fit in a lot in 130 minutes and it doesn’t work as intended. The script is not up to the mark in several places. The narrative style, though novel, is such that one doesn’t get fully involved in Leonard’s life.

Bradley Cooper, the director, might have faltered but Bradley Cooper the actor is flawless. This is easily his most accomplished performance and also one of the best performances in recent times. One can see that he has gone all out to ensure the performance makes an impact. Carey Mulligan, too, puts her best foot forward. Her role is a bit subtle but nevertheless, it makes an impact. Both Carey and Bradley are sure to be nominated for the Oscars. These two actors dominate the film. Hence, though Matt Bomer, Maya Hawke, Sam Nivola and Alexa Swinton do well, they are not as memorable.

Leonard Bernstein’s music is used in the film and it’s impactful. Matthew Libatique’s cinematography is stunning. Kevin Thompson’s production design and Mark Bridges’s costumes are authentic. Michelle Tesoro’s editing is novel.

On the whole, MAESTRO has a few shortcomings but is worth watching for Bradley Cooper’s award-worthy performance.

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