Maestro by Brad Cooper [7/10]

If you swoon over Leonard Bernstein’s conducting (clearly inspirational, if Brad Cooper’s portrayal captures it) or composing, then Maestro, which not only stars Cooper but was co-written and directed by him, is likely to captivate you. This is by no means your standard dull biopic but an arty, bold take, from the largely black-and-white cinematography to the demanding scripting (which smacks you into a scene with no preamble, which can skip years in a second) to the Bernstein-music score to the rapid-fire, very upper-class-Manhattan dialogue. This is a film that excites the mind as much as the senses. Brad Cooper’s take on Bernstein’s life, which seems to be so full of action and intrigue and heft, centers on his relationship with his wife, Felicia Montealegre (played brilliantly by Carey Mulligan, who even manages to nudge Cooper out of the limelight), especially the complexities woven by Bernstein’s simultaneous love for her and his unstoppable attraction to male lovers. In the final analysis, this viewer’s emotions failed to be ignited, perhaps due to the seriousness of the overall approach, but Maestro definitely deserves a watch.

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