KSL Movie Show review: ‘Maestro’ shows a renown composer, flaws and all, exquisitely

Dec 8, 2023, 9:25 AM | Updated: Dec 22, 2023, 11:27 am

KSL Movie Show co-host Steve Salles says "Maestro" is a fine picture you won't want to miss....

Steve Salles, co-host of the KSL Movie Show, says Bradley Cooper's growth to get this role in "Maestro" is as exquisite as the movie.

SALT LAKE CITY — Bradley Cooper, the star of “Maestro” hitting theaters this weekend, has come a long way since his early efforts as the obnoxious, overbearing boyfriend to Rachel McAdams’ Claire in 2005’s “Wedding Crashers“.

Then came “American Sniper“, followed by the voice of Rocket in “Guardians of the Galaxy” and then that big leap as Jack in “A Star is Born” leading to an Oscar nomination.

So now he’s taking on a musical legend, conductor-composer Leonard Bernstein, in a film that has Oscar nominations written all over it.

And while his efforts are noteworthy here in starring, producing, directing and co-writing this amazing film, “Maestro”, it’s the work of Carey Mulligan, playing Lenny’s long-suffering wife Felicia Montealegre that truly stands out in an already, epic motion picture.

The strength of her performance as a vibrant, determined wife, mother and actress was easily one of the best of the year.

So why was Leonard Bernstein such a big deal?

According to Wikipedia, he has been referred to as one of the most prodigiously talented and successful musicians in American history. He was the first American-born conductor to lead a major symphony orchestra, plus he wrote music for a variety of genres, from symphonic to ballet, from film to theatre, most famously the scores for “West Side Story” and “On the Waterfront”.

How did Cooper prepare to play him in ‘Maestro’?

Well, you better look close enough like him so that people do a double-take. Therein, lies one of the early complaints of Cooper’s transition to Bernstein — and it was all about the nose. Fortunately for Cooper, he had one of the most accomplished prosthetic makeup designers in Kazu Hiro, who went to painstaking lengths to get it right. Honestly, it took some getting used to, but eventually, I believe, you’ll warm up to his look, mannerisms and speech patterns.

Also, he’d better look like a conductor and Cooper put in the work training for weeks and months to deliver Bernstein’s flamboyant style. At one point in the film, Cooper as Leonard conducts Gustav Mahler’s Resurrection Symphony at the very same Ely Cathedral in England where Bernstein did it in 1973. It was a terrific performance by both men.

So getting back to the long-suffering wife

Felicia knew that Lenny loved everybody, both men and women. She was just hoping that after all his acclaim as a national figure and becoming the father of three lovely children, he would tone it down a bit — which he did not. That leads to one of the most dramatic scenes in the film when Lenny arrives late for the family Thanksgiving dinner and Felicia tears into him. That scene alone is Oscar gold.

“Maestro” is an exquisite, warts-and-all masterpiece that despite its darker edge, had the approval of the Bernstein family, even allowing Cooper’s team to film at the family estate of Tanglewood.

And the music? It’s all hand-picked Bernstein’s compositions, so be prepared to be blown away on several levels.

MAESTRO (A) Rated R for some language and drug use (but also non-stop smoking). It stars Carey Mulligan, Bradley Cooper, Matt Bomer and Sarah Silverman. Co-written, produced, and directed by Bradley Cooper (“A Star is Born”) with Martin Scorsese and Steven Spielberg serving as producers. Filmed in New York and England. 129 minutes.

Steve Salles is the co-host of the KSL Movie Show. Follow the show on Facebook. Join the KSL Movie Show Club for exclusive perks by texting MOVIE to 57500. 

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KSL Movie Show review: ‘Maestro’ shows a renown composer, flaws and all, exquisitely