The Leonard Bernstein biopic starring Bradley Cooper has had its premiere at the Venice Film Festival. We take a look at what is being said…

The Guardian: **** “In the end, Cooper’s Maestro succeeds because it is candid about the sacrifices which art demands of its practitioners, and the sacrifices these practitioners demand of their families and partners. Bernstein was never going to compromise who he was, no matter how much he loved his wife. There is a sad, wintry acceptance of that.”

Variety: “The film is honest enough to show us that there’s no resolving the contradiction at the heart of his marriage to Felicia, which starts as devotion, flirts with betrayal, succumbs to a kind of despair, returns to devotion and is always about love. “Maestro” can’t help but be dominated by the grandeur of Bernstein’s passion, his outsize flaws, and the tightrope he walked between the need to find the meaning of beauty and the desire to stay fancy free. Yet Cooper and Mulligan make the movie a duet to remember.” “The screenplay, by Cooper and Josh Singer, avoids ticking off all of Bernstein’s major triumphs and setbacks. Instead, they have constructed a fond character study that luxuriates in its subject’s livewire personality while acknowledging how exasperating and exhausting he could be. “

Rolling Stone: “In one revealing exchange, Bernstein confides in Felicia that as a child he would often fantasize about murdering his father for he was a “cruel” man, leading her to conclude that it was anger, not a love of people, that drove him to great heights. Whatever it was, we should be grateful that Lenny graced us with his presence, and that Cooper has crafted this warm-hearted work of art honoring him.”

The Hollywood Reporter: “Perhaps the most crucial craft contribution is the enveloping sound design, making you hear famous Bernstein works like his epic-scale Mass, his opera A Quiet Place or his magnificent overture to Candide as if for the first time.”

The Independent: **** “Cooper is effortlessly charming in a film that’s been making headlines for all the wrong reasons, and his co-star Carey Mulligan is magnificent.”

Radio Times: ***** “Marking only Cooper’s second film as director, following 2018’s remake A Star Is Born, when the film soars, it really soars. Towards the end, before tragic news strikes, there’s a scene with Bernstein conducting, sweat pouring from him. It’s a triumph of passion and power and concludes with a moment so romantic, it’ll bring tears to the eyes. Maybe you can argue that Maestro doesn’t show the struggle fully that Bernstein endured. He is told to change his name to ‘Berns’, for example, for fear of prejudice, refuses and that’s the end of that. But the struggle here is an interior one, and Cooper captures the price of genius with genuine aplomb. Take a bow, maestro.”

Deadline: “It is a fascinating portrait Bradley Cooper (who is star, director, co-writer, and a producer) paints and a choice that seems inspired. This is a complex story of a man who can’t quite define the intersection of his art and personal life but seems to thrive on the ambiguity, a bigger than life and towering personality not at all sugar coated in this compelling take.”

Time Magazine: “This is a complex and sophisticated picture, the kind of grown-up love story we see all too rarely these days, especially when it comes to starry, big-ticket moviemaking. It’s entertaining and robust and forthright; it’s also tremendously sad, not necessarily in a bring-your-hanky way, but in a deeper, more truthful way. “

Little White Lies: “It’s a shame, as there are promising elements of Maestro, but they form a rather forgettable, conventional biographical drama as a whole – one that sadly lacks Bernstein’s maverick spirit and warmth, or even captures anything about him you couldn’t glean from a quick skim read of Wikipedia. There’s no real sense of his passion, or what set him apart from his peers. One of the great jokes in Todd Field’s Tár is that Lydia Tár claimed to have been mentored by Bernstein; how is it that a single detail in a fiction could be more interesting and revealing than the entirety of Cooper’s long-gestating passion project?”

Maestro will be released for a limited run in cinemas from the 22nd November before a release on Netflix on the 20th December.


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