Bradley Cooper has pulled out all the stops in front of, behind and beyond the camera. As co-writer (with Josh Singer), director, producer and star of this lush biography of Leonard Bernstein, Cooper is in full command. It is not often that a film’s list of producers includes Martin Scorsese AND Steven Spielberg.

Leonard Bernstein is one of the last century’s great composers and shed light on American classical music composition. He was a mercurial character, as certainly evidenced in this magnificently produced film. In an era when sexuality in public was fairly binary, Bernstein was far more fluid. His wife, played brilliantly by Carey Mulligan was already a noted actress, but accepted that Bernstein would have another love life outside of their bedroom. She was generally accepting of the arrangement, but it became more complicated when they had children and Bernstein’s behavior was a bit more flagrant.

In a fascinating technological choice, Cooper varies not only the aspect ratio of the film, but toggles between black-and-white and color.

Playing Bernstein, Bradley has done a tremendous job mimicking the composer’s watery accent, which evolves over the decades, most likely as a result of incessant cigarette smoking.

The most Intense moment of the film is when Bernstein’s wife directs him to address their college age daughter who is hearing rumors of Bernstein’s sexuality. The camera lingers for a tremendously long time as Bernstein/Cooper contemplates how to answer his daughter’s question “are the rumors true?”.

For all the music that is so crucial to Bernstein’s life, the film only glances across the creation of such landmark compositions as West Side Story, Candide and myriad others. How music is made is a mystery to me, and I would’ve liked some insight into this glorious process. Nonetheless, Cooper clearly wanted to focus on the man and not the art. The two are certainly inextricably intertwined, but this film is a fascinating glimpse into a relationship that very few knew about at the time. Given that the end credits include heartfelt acknowledgment to Bernstein’s three kids, we can assume that much of what we see on screen is true.

Brad Auerbach has been a journalist and editor covering the media, entertainment, travel and technology scene for many years. He has written for Forbes, Time Out London, SPIN, Village Voice, LA Weekly and early in his career won a New York State College Journalism Award.