We are now in the middle of film awards season, and one film which has received lots of nominations has been the Leonard Bernstein biopic ‘Maestro‘. Directed by the multi talented actor Bradley Cooper, who also plays the lead, Maestro is Leonard’s story, mainly focusing on his relationship with equally talented wife Felicia Montealegre. There’s was a true love story of two like minds, but was plagued by Bernstein’s numerous love affairs with men that he carried out all through the marriage. Felicia knew of, and tolerated these for many years, but ultimately they lead to the breakdown of their relationship, although they remained married until her early death from Cancer in 1978, something which haunted him forever after.
Maestro is a truly beautiful film, not least due to the filming of the early scenes in wonderful black and white, giving them a real 1940’s vintage feel. The film itself is not perfect, I was happy to watch it on Netflix rather than catching it on its limited cinema run in December, it sort of feels more small screen. That said, it has some really wonderful scenes, including one on the stage set of his musical ‘On the Town.’ Some of the early dialogue is snappy and witty, like in the party scene where Bernstein first meets Felicia, and it boosts a great supporting cast, including the hot right now Maya Hawke from Stranger Things as daughter Jamie, and Sarah Silverman as Bernstein’s sister Shirley. Matt Bomer is also very good as Bernstein’s early lover David.
But it is the two leads who truly shine. It has been well reported about the prosthetic nose that Bradley Cooper wore to play Bernstein, but this overshadows his confident performance where he seems to be living in the role, so natural is his performance. Carey Mulligan is the true star however, she is simply luminescent as Felicia, almost lighting up the screen in those early black and white scenes, and then absolutely heartbreaking in her final scenes. She is one of the finest actresses on screen today, and every single performance just highlights this fact again. She is being overshadowed this awards season by Emma Stone, which I think is a real shame, as this is a beautiful performance.
You can currently watch Maestro on Netflix. Well worth a look.