Maestro, the new Netflix film from actor/director Bradley Cooper, has sparked an intense online debate about whether it uses what’s described “Jewface” since the first trailer was released.
The film, which details the life and legacy of esteemed Jewish composer Leonard Bernstein, features Cooper with a prosthetic nose to bring his visible likeness much closer to the artist. Beyond criticising Cooper for not allowing an actually Jewish actor to portray the role, many have criticised the actor for donning what’s been deemed an offensive exaggeration of Bernstein’s nose.
A new statement has entered the fray from the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), the Jewish organisation dedicated to combatting bigotry and prejudice, which has formally claimed that Cooper is not guilty of anti-semitism in his portrayal of Bernstein.
In a statement to Variety magazine, the ADL said, “Throughout history, Jews were often portrayed in antisemitic films and propaganda as evil caricatures with large, hooked noses. This film, which is a biopic on the legendary conductor Leonard Bernstein, is not that.”
Bernstein’s family were also quick to express their vocal support for Cooper, and insisted that their father would have been happy with the performance. Speaking on the ongoing debate, they shared, “It breaks our hearts to see any misrepresentations or misunderstandings of his efforts. It happens to be true that Leonard Bernstein had a nice, big nose.”
Continuing, they clarified that “Bradley chose to use makeup to amplify his resemblance, and we’re perfectly fine with that,” adding, “We’re also certain that our dad would have been fine with it as well.”
Maestro, which also features Carey Mulligan in the lead female role as Bernstein’s wife, Felicia Montealegre, will premiere at the Venice Film Festival on September 2nd before seeing a wider release on Netflix on December 20th.