The Master (2023) by Bradley Cooper

Not wanting to take anything away from a production worked out to the smallest detail, further enriched by deft camera movements, the immortal music of Leonard Bernstein and the exquisite (perhaps too glossy?) black and white depiction of the protagonist’s past, Maestro, unfortunately, is ranked among numerous biopics with a purely classical imprint, confuses them and is dangerously devoid of personality. In competition at the 80th Venice Film Festival.

The man and the artist

Great composer and conductor Leonard Bernstein (1918 – 1990) – a real legend not only in the field of classical music, but also the author of numerous film soundtracks, even received an Oscar nomination for music Harbor facade (Elia Kazan, 1954). Bradley Cooper, who has established himself as an actor for several years, made his directorial debut in 2018 with A star is born and received a generally good reception from the public and critics. Thus, these two personalities first “met” on the occasion80To Venice Film FestivalWhere Owner“, Cooper’s second work, dedicated specifically to the life of Bernstein, was presented in the fight for the Golden Lion.

unconventional love

Maestro, Bradley Cooper and Carey Mulligan in one scene
Maestro, Bradley Cooper and Carey Mulligan in a scene from the movie

In implementation OwnerSo Cooper mainly focused on the relationship between the main character (played by himself) and his wife Felicia Montealegre (played here by Carey Mulligan). A gentle and romantic relationship, but also quite stormy (especially because of his bisexuality). In short, completely unconventional for that time. At the same time, Bernstein’s immortal music is a constant in a biopic that is, yes, a classic, but which, like the protagonist’s performance, wants to immediately present itself as an “imposing” piece. In a nutshell, as a work that – in terms of directorial approach, themes and acting – already, it would seem, has its eyes on the next Academy Award.

one mshow

Maestro, Bradley Cooper in episode
Maestro Bradley Cooper in a still from the movie

Yes, because in fact the same as it was in the previous to the star THATWith bhornalso in Owner we see Cooper in the dual role of actor and director. A role he seems to do well on the whole, avoiding in both cases excessive self-reference and striving at all costs to give his audience a “memorable” performance. And in fact, Bradley Cooper as Leonard Bernstein convinces. And not only in relation to the extraordinary external resemblance (and excellent work in the dressing room). So, in light of all this, why does this second work of his leave us with so much confusion? He said soon.

Attention to detail

Not wanting to take anything away from a production thought out to the smallest detail, which thinks big and which is further enriched by deft camera movements (especially at the beginning of the feature film), Bernstein’s immortal music (especially impressive, in this regard, precisely the moments concerning his performances) and exquisite ( perhaps too glossy?) a black and white depiction of the protagonist’s past, Owner unfortunately, it ranks among the many biopics with a purely classic imprint, straying from them, and dangerously lacking in personality.

Master, Bradley Cooper in one scene
Maestro Bradley Cooper in a scene from the movie

It’s a matter of character

In fact, Bradley Cooper’s decision to focus on it didn’t turn out to be particularly “successful.” Owner, in particular about the relationship between Bernstein and his wife Felicia (moreover, a lot of inventing all this). Although this ratio was unconventional for that time, although (which should not be underestimated) and corresponded to the canons most sought after by Hollywood (and not only) today, this ratio, in fact acting as an absolute protagonist, meant that the entire feature film dangerously fell short in terms of time. trite, not particularly different from the many biopics that have been released in abundance, especially in recent years; and, above all, without using all the many potentials that such a person and such an artist as Leonard Bernstein could offer. Would it not therefore be too risky even to aim for the Golden Lion?



Original name: Owner
Director: Bradley Cooper
Country/year: USA / 2023
Duration: 129′
Type: Drama, Biographical, Musical
Throw: Bradley Cooper, Maya Hawke, Miriam Shore, Sarah Silverman, Carey Mulligan, Alexa Swinton, Eric Parkinson, Gideon Glick, Michael Urie, Sam Nivola, Anthony Gallotta, Gabe Fazio, Kate Eastman, Marco Kaka, Matt Bomer, Nick Blamire, Oraldo Austin , Oscar Pavlo, Sarah Sanderson, William Hill
Screenplay: Bradley Cooper, Josh Singer
Photo: Matthew Libatik
Assembly: Michelle Darling
Director: Fred Berner, Bradley Cooper, Amy Durning, Christy Makosko Krieger, Steven Spielberg, Martin Scorsese
Production house: Netflix, Amblin Entertainment, Joint Effort, Fred Berner Films, Sikelia Productions
Distribution: Netflix


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From the same directors or screenwriters

After graduating from the Sapienza University of Rome with a degree in Modern Languages, Literature and Translation Studies, I graduated from the Griffith Academy of Film and Television with a degree in directing and screenwriting in Rome, as well as a film criticism seminar at the Cinematography Experimental Center. Since 2013 I have been writing about cinema for the Entr’Acte blog, for the Roma newspaper and for, Mondospettacolo, Cabiria Magazine and of course Asbury Movies. President of the cinema club “La Carrozza d’Oro”, in 2019 I founded the magazine “Austrian Cinema”.

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