In “Anatomy of a Scene,” we ask directors to reveal the secrets that go into making key scenes in their movies. See new episodes in the series on Fridays. You can also watch our collection of more than 150 videos on YouTube and subscribe to our YouTube channel.
A couple reaches a heated turning point in this sequence from the biopic “Maestro,” directed and co-written by Bradley Cooper, who stars as the conductor Leonard Bernstein.
The scene takes place on Thanksgiving Day in the New York apartment of Leonard and his wife, the actress Felicia Montealegre (Carey Mulligan). Soon after Leonard enters the room, Felicia’s criticism begins. As the moment progresses, her verbal attacks increase in ferocity and speed in a way that contrasts with the relaxed pace of the Thanksgiving Day Parade floats passing just outside the couple’s windows.
“It is the scene of the film in many ways,” Cooper said in an interview. “The whole film builds to this scene and then the aftermath of it.”
Felicia realizes that the compromises she has made in their relationship have eroded her emotional state and she can no longer contain her anger. Cooper said he had envisioned the sequence in one take and knew it needed to be shot that way. But he did have concerns. “My fear was that we wouldn’t be able to maintain this frame for the entire scene. But because Carey Mulligan is such an assassin actor, it was effortless.”
Sign up for the Movies Update newsletter and get a roundup of reviews, news, Critics’ Picks and more.