clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Bradley Cooper’s Leonard Bernstein biopic leans into the composer’s romance(s)

The first teaser builds the story around his relationship with his wife, played by Carey Mulligan

Austen Goslin (he/him) is an entertainment editor. He writes about the latest TV shows and movies, and particularly loves all things horror.

Bradley Cooper’s directing journey has taken its most ambitious turn yet with his new Leonard Bernstein biographical drama, Maestro. The teaser trailer for the Netflix movie arrived on Tuesday and gave us our first preview of Cooper’s portrayal of the composer, along with Carey Mulligan as Bernstein’s longtime wife and friend Felicia Montealegre.

The teaser itself focuses on the relationship between Bernstein and Montealegre. It starts in their past, in black-and-white, with both of them young, then cuts forward to the couple as their older selves, in color. In between, we see scenes of Bernstein conducting and flirting with men, while Montealegre is in turmoil, at least for a time.

Bernstein and Montealegre had a complicated but seemingly happy marriage, which seems to be largely the subject of this movie, or at least its foundation, according to the teaser. Bernstein had several affairs with both men and women, though in her own writing Montealegre referred to Bernstein as a homosexual — though bisexual seems a little closer to the truth as we’d understand it now. Despite this, the two had a close partnership, marriage, and friendship until Montealegre’s death.

Unfortunately for Bradley Cooper and Maestro, it seems like it will come out at the worst time possible: one year on from the majesty and austere horrors of fictional conductor Lydia Tar, and just six short months after Oppenheimer’s black-and-white-to-color biopic raised the historical and box office stakes for the genre. The comparisons to both movies will be awfully hard to dodge.

The good news is that Cooper has a precedent for success in directing movies about musicians. His last directorial effort was the 2018 remake of A Star is Born, which earned $436 million at the global box office and eight Academy Award nominations.

Maestro will have a limited theatrical run starting on Nov. 22, before it arrives on Netflix on Dec. 20.

Sign up for the newsletter Sign up for Patch Notes

A weekly roundup of the best things from Polygon