Bradley Cooper co-wrote, directed and stars as composer Leonard Bernstein in "Maestro"
Reviews are in for Bradley Cooper's new movie Maestro.
After Maestro made its world premiere at the Venice International Film Festival over the weekend, critics shared largely positive reviews of the new movie, which marks 48-year-old Cooper's next directorial effort after 2018's A Star Is Born.
Writing for The Hollywood Reporter, critic David Rooney said Maestro — a biopic about composer Leonard Bernstein's marriage with wife Felicia Montealegre — "is a layered examination of a relationship that might be grossly over-simplified today as that of a closeted gay man and his 'beard.' "
Rooney praised Cooper's performance as Bernstein and wrote that the star "walks a tricky line, never letting him become unsympathetic even at his most insensitive." Meanwhile, costar Carey Mulligan "has never been better," citing a scene depicting an argument between the couple as one of the film's highlights.
In a review for Deadline, Pete Hammond wrote that Maestro "is the work of a very assured filmmaker bringing a strong vision to the screen."
"The music, and the way it is used throughout is a star player itself, certainly a reason to see this film in a theatrical setting with state-of-the-art sound systems, even if it eventually is going to be streaming on Netflix," Hammond wrote, adding that Cooper's "transformation into this musical giant is something to behold."
Variety film critic Owen Gleiberman said some controversy over Cooper's use of a prosthetic nose to portray Bernstein "was entirely misplaced," complimenting the film for not necessarily dwelling solely on Bernstein's best-known career successes.
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"We expect that the movie is going to 'explain' their relationship," the critic wrote of how Maestro approaches Cooper and Mulligan's characters. "Cooper does something more audacious: He presents it, from every angle, in all its mystery, as a romantic partnership as unique as any other."
Total Film critic Jane Crowther compared the movie to last year's TÁR, which starred Cate Blanchett as a fictional composer who studied under Bernstein.
"This year, she can — literally and figuratively — pass the baton to Bradley Cooper, who disappears inside his performance as Leonard Bernstein," Crowther wrote, adding that Cooper and Mulligan "are organically believable as a partnership, dancing around each other linguistically in a way that’s thrilling to watch."
Writing for RogerEbert.com, critic Glenn Kenny complimented Mulligan's performance and said Maestro "just ignored so much of Bernstein’s relation to music" and his most notable collaborations with other 20th-century artists Stephen Sondheim and Elia Kazan, among other examples.
"Here, Carey Mulligan, playing against director Cooper’s Bernstein, pretty much acts her costar off the screen, as a colleague put it," Kenny wrote. "Cooper does his level best, God knows, but never inhabits the role."
Maestro is in select theaters in November then on Netflix Dec. 20.
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