Maestro – Movie Reviews by Ry!

Maestro – Musical Notes of Hearts and Life

The onlook of life is a journey of thoughts and reflection.  As we move through each day, it becomes a mantle of whom, what and why.  Many questions can be asked, but it is within our hearts that a story can lead to endless possibilities.  This idea of capturing life is a precarious one, especially in biopics.  Within this delicate trail of storytelling, it can either be a magical or a pretentious tale.  In this review, I look at the latest biopic of a famed conductor/composer.  From a general premise, it becomes a journey of complications.  With some standout performances, Maestro is an interesting tale about music, love, and life.

This is a story about famed conductor/composer Leonard Bernstein (Bradley Cooper) and his life odyssey with his wife, Felicia Montealegre (Carey Mulligan).  When it comes to films based on a person’s life, the filmmakers must balance ‘real events’ within the objective of storytelling.  It is an interesting dance but can provide a way for those unfamiliar (with the material or person) to get an insight while also being entertained.  With this biopic, we come into Bernstein’s life through a present-day style conversational prologue.  From here, the film jumps back (in time) setting the stage for his composer/conductor career and initial interaction with his future wife, Felicia.  This leads through scenes of humanistic overtures, built within ominous foreshadowing and authentic conversations.  As Bernstein continues his upwards trajectory in his career, it parallels the budding relationship with Felicia.  The ideal aspect that might seem generalized (by the genre) is morphed by creative twist that blends the era within the usage of black and white.  This surrealism provides unique imagery (for a biopic), but also gives a contrast when the film transitions to color.  When the visuals change, it marks a shift in characterization, tone, and perspective.  What the filmmakers do is provide a charm of depth that leads to an endearing concept about life’s worth.

As Bernstein reaches certain heights in his career, it builds towards this ‘larger than life’ motif that overshadows the relationship with his wife.  The composer’s life starts to blur the lines of family and music, building towards dramatic events for the couple.  The morphing of moments is stringed through grounded conversations, providing a layer of intrigue and unpredictability.  For all that can be entrapped (by the genre), this second half builds through an indifference that slowly compliments the first half’s charm.  This leads into a third act that builds through emotional accords, ending with a climax that is common but genuine.  Maestro is a biopic that stands strong through characterized approach.  If you are a fan of the actors involved, character tales or biopics, this is one for you.  It is available on Netflix, but would have been worth seeing on the big screen.

Full Score – 3.5 out of 5 (Matinee)

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