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  • Writer's pictureBen Turner

I will not be reviewing Maestro. Here’s why.

Bradley Cooper’s biopic of legendary (and bisexual) composer Leonard Bernstein would usually be exactly the kind of film I would cover in detail on The Pink Lens. Except this time there’s a problem.

Cooper’s transformation to play the Jewish Bernstein has included wearing a prosthetic nose. This is a classic case of the continuing normalisation of “Jewface” in Hollywood, a practice that is outdated and immoral.

For many years there has been uproar and outrage if characters haven’t been played by actors of the appropriate race. The only case where this has not been true is for Jewish characters. Many of Hollywood’s greatest actors have played Jewish roles to great acclaim - especially in movies about the Holocaust - but the film community doesn’t bat an eyelid when a non-Jewish actor takes on a Jewish role. But exaggerating an actor’s physical features to look more Jewish? Surely that’s a step too far.

Bernstein’s nose is a distinctive feature that defines who he was. It was indicative of his Jewishness. The answer to depicting his likeness accurately on screen was not to exaggerate Cooper’s nose, but to cast someone else. Someone who resembles him. Someone Jewish.

2023 has been a year of significantly increased antisemitism worldwide. To end the year with a movie that clearly demonstrates this trend from one of the biggest studios with one of the most popular movie stars in the world is wildly insensitive, inappropriate and racist. And to excuse it by saying the film has “the approval of the Bernstein Family” - who stand to profit greatly from its release - is simply not enough.

Antisemitism is one of the most enduring and deep-seated forms of prejudice. The Pink Lens is deeply committed to demonstrated diversity for everyone worldwide. ‘Maestro’ does not fit within that description, so I will not be reviewing or covering its release further.


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