It’s a strange and welcome turn of events to have seen Bradley Cooper flower from a typical all-American leading man into one of Hollywood’s leading musical biographers. After the runaway success of A Star is Born (fictional, sure, but as mythic and well-known a story as you could find), Cooper has evidently lost none of his energy and chutzpah in directing himself as Leonard Bernstein, one of the great symphonic polymaths. Across a long career composing musicals and film scores, he had various achievements in teaching, activism and, as a conductor, championing Mahler - all very Lydia Tár, for whom he appeared as an inspiration. As you can tell, there is plenty of material here for Cooper to utilise in a biopic, and the film’s stylistic jumps from crisp monochrome to splashy colour as it traverses periods offer a glimpse at the range that the writers aim to portray within the central character himself. Though, of course, this isn’t a single portrait, and Carey Mulligan is tipped to be on her finest form as Bernstein’s wife Felicia Montealegre Cohn; A Star is Born didn’t sugar-coat its image of fame and artistic sacrifice, and the central presence of Felicia in Maestro seems to match Cooper’s work here too. Admittedly there was an element of casting controversy leading up to the film’s release, given that Cooper and Mulligan don’t exactly align with the Jewish Bernstein and Costa Rican Felicia. However, committed performances and a continued storytelling verve developing in Cooper as director have since blessed Maestro with much excitement and awards buzz.
Screenings of this film:
|2023/2024 Spring Term – (digital)