PG, language, mature theme.
Dir: Bradley Cooper.
US, 2023, 129 min.
Carey Mulligan, Bradley Cooper, Matt Bomer.
“Maestro confirms what was suggested by Cooper’s directorial debut, A Star Is Born. He has sky-high ambitions, and he has the technical virtuosity and big-hearted sincerity to fulfill those ambitions with flair… It begins in 1943 when the 25-year-old Bernstein is a last-minute stand-in at Carnegie Hall for the New York Philharmonic’s indisposed conductor. With no time to rehearse, he nonetheless wields the baton with such brilliance that, well, a star is born. Soon, he is busy composing the score for a musical, On the Town, and he is trading urbane quips with Felicia Montealegre (Carey Mulligan), a moneyed actress who is keen to marry him despite her knowledge of his gay relationships. The early stages of their romance are presented as a black-and-white 1940s backstage melodrama, a whirlwind of fast talking, hectic pacing and wild dream sequences… Later, when Bernstein is an over-stretched, over-indulged celebrity, Maestro switches to colour, and has the look and feel of a gritty 1970s drama. The screenplay avoids ticking off all of Bernstein’s major triumphs and setbacks. Instead, they have constructed a fond character study that luxuriates in its subject’s livewire personality while acknowledging how exasperating and exhausting he could be… Maestro is a warm yet melancholy portrait of someone who is the life and soul of every party not just because he loves company but because he fears being alone. Mulligan’s performance… is a sparkling tour de force… She has never been better.”—Nicholas Barber, BBC
“Like the man whose life it celebrates, Maestro deserves to pack the stalls.” —Phil de Semlyen, Time Out