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  • Writer's pictureStephen Yanni

🏆 Maestro (2023) - Unfinished Symphony: Bernstein's Life in Disarray

Rating: ★★☆☆☆ (2/5 stars)

Released 11-22-2023

Watched 01-31-2024

Reviewed 02-05-2024

Watched on Netflix

"I love music so much it keeps me glued to life even when I'm most depressed, and I can get very deeply depressed."

"Maestro," despite its star-studded cast and reputable production team, falls short of expectations for a 2-star review. While Bradley Cooper's ambitious direction and screenplay, co-written with Josh Singer, aim to delve into the complex relationship between Leonard Bernstein and Felicia Montealegre, the film struggled to fully engage me. Carey Mulligan and Cooper deliver competent performances, but they are unable to salvage a narrative that often feels disjointed.

The film's pacing is uneven, with significant events in Bernstein's life and career glossed over or left out, leaving little room for the emotional depth and character development one would expect from a biographical romantic drama. The supporting cast, including Matt Bomer, Maya Hawke, and Sarah Silverman, is underused, their talents squandered in roles that offer little substance or relevance to the central narrative.

Visually, "Maestro" is pleasing, with careful attention to period detail and a polished aesthetic with portions in Black and White. However, this visual appeal is not enough to compensate for the film's narrative shortcomings. The exploration of Bernstein's sexuality and the challenges it posed to his marriage is handled with a lack of nuance, reducing potentially powerful moments to clichéd confrontations.

Furthermore, the film's attempt to cover the expanse of Bernstein's life and career results in a fragmented viewing experience, where no single aspect is given enough focus to resonate meaningfully with the audience. The score, while beautifully composed, is often used as a crutch, attempting to evoke emotional responses that the screenplay fails to elicit on its own.

In conclusion, "Maestro" is a film that promises much but delivers little. It is a superficial glance at the life of a complex figure, lacking the depth and insight expected from a biographical drama. While it may appeal to those with a particular interest in Leonard Bernstein or the era he lived in, for the general audience, it is an underwhelming experience that leaves much to be desired.


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