While viewing “Maestro,” one becomes immersed in the world of the musical genius Leonard Bernstein (Bradley Cooper) as well as the love story between him and his wife, Felicia Montealegre, (Carey Mulligan). Having a background in teaching gifted students, writing gifted curriculum, and with the knowledge of the characteristics of a gifted person, I appreciated the script’s depth in terms of the subtle nuances in the film that show us Leonard’s genius. For this time in history, from the 50s through the 70s, it was remarkable that he could balance a family life and seek solace in his love of males. He led a dual life, which, surprisingly, Felicia approved if he kept his affairs a secret.
As a composer/conductor/musician/educator, Leonard Bernstein is considered one of America’s most important conductors of his time; he was the first American-born conductor to receive international acclaim. He’s also one of American history’s most enormously talented and successful musicians. Bradley Cooper co-wrote, directed, and stars as Bernstein, a passion project he’d been planning for years. The attention to detail of authenticity is vital in achieving success in a docudrama, and Cooper has succeeded here. I was in the dark going in, but now I’ve become educated concerning many aspects of his life, including his supportive wife, Felicia Montealegre. To say that Carey Mulligan shines in the film is an understatement; through her outstanding performance, we learn so much about this famous, important person.
Through Cooper’s study of his subject and his knowledge of visual story-telling, the scenes are filled with conflict, resolution, and love. The scene in which each sits back to back in a beautiful park filled with trees in an overhead shot is another one of my favorites. They are simply breathing in and out, taking in all the gifts they have to share, yet knowing they need each other to be complete. It’s a gorgeous scene and bound to be an iconic one attached to the film forever.
As not to spoil the details of the movie, as it’s best to see it without knowing the entire story, I won’t relay anymore concerning the elements. What I can say is that the film is in my Top Ten of Best films for 2023, and that I can’t wait to see it again.
Sarah Knight Adamson Dec. 2, 2023