ReelBob: 2017 Heartland Film Festival: ‘The Maestro’ ★★

For tickets and show times, please click here.

By Bob Bloom

“The Maestro,” a period piece about talent and dreams, fails to hit all the right notes.

The movie, directed by Adam Cushman and written by C.V. Herst, is an earnest feature that lacks any emotional wallop. And because it plays out at a steady pace, it does not provide any crescendos or impact.

This discordant work feels as if it is straining to tell its story.

Jerry Herst (Leo Marks) comes to post-World War II Hollywood to study music with legendary maestro Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco (Xander Berkeley). Tedesco is a “ghost composer,” tweaking dozens of movie scores to improve them.

He worked on hundreds of films in his long career, but received credits on just seven.

Tedesco is a demanding teacher who pushes Herst to trust his instincts and emotions in his work.

Herst, who was a lawyer before the war and also had composed a No. 1 hit tune, struggles to understand Tedesco’s philosophy about music, as well as to overcome his lack of confidence in his own abilities.

As Tedesco continues to work with Herst, the young man begins to find his voice.

And while this may sound very compelling on paper, it plays out rather slowly and mechanically on screen. The film lacks urgency and heart.

It also hurts that Marks and Berkeley give bland performances. Berkeley, especially, could have used some fire and spirit to more fully illuminate his character.

Because of its subject matter, “The Maestro” should have been a more bouncy and vibrant feature — with strong personalities and insightful examinations of creativity and individual potential.

Instead, it just rolls along in a rather ordinary manner that fails to wrap the audience in its embrace.

I am a member of the Indiana Film Journalists Association. My reviews appear at ReelBob ( and Rottentomatoes ( I also review Blu-rays and DVDs. I can be reached by email at or on Twitter @ReelBobBloom. Links to my reviews can be found on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and LinkedIn.

2 stars out of 4
Not rated

7:30 p.m., Tuesday, Oct. 17, Castleton Square
12:15 p.m., Wednesday, Oct. 18, Traders Point