Maestro! – LA EigaFest Review


There’s something about films that inspires people. Top Gun inspired a generation of fighter pilots, Chef did the same for culinary chefs. Shotaro Kobayashi’s Maestro! is the type of film that can inspire the next generation of musicians.

Based off the Japanese manga of the same name, Maestro! follows a group of “leftovers” from Japan’s defunct Central Symphony Orchestra who are all brought together by the mysterious conductor, Tetsusaburo Tendo. Tendo’s irritating behavior initially rubs the orchestra the wrong way, but soon they realize that his eccentric behavior has started to bring everyone closer together.


As much as Maestro! provides plenty of classical music, Tendo’s relationship with his orchestra is the foundation of the film. Tendo’s gradual process of bringing the musicians together gives the film its dramatic weight. There’s just something about watching a group of underdogs rising up to the occasion that gives the audiences great pleasure.

There’s an easygoing tone to Maestro! that makes it go down easily despite its predictable ending. However, the film starts to lose focus as soon as it starts to go into the tragic backstories of some of the characters. While it does give characters some development, it begins to bog down the pacing of the film.


Toshiyuki Nishida as Tendo is eccentric and brash, but he’s also sweet without getting too sentimental. Equally jovial and pleasant is Miwa as Amane Tachibana, the catalyst to the more heartwarming scenes in the film. In fact, the rest of the cast is as enjoyable as Nishida and Miwa. Unfortunately, Tori Matsuzaka isn’t as likable as the rest of his co-stars. His one-note performance as Kosaka just doesn’t hold up as the rest of the cast.

Classical music is also another star of the film. Beethoven’s “Symphony No. 5” and Schubert’s “Unfinished Symphony No. 8,” take center stage in the film. There’s something fascinating about seeing an orchestra’s process of playing the classics. It’s the same reason why Whiplash captivated audiences.

Overall, Maestro! is a pleasing humanistic comedy, that’s touching and very funny in places. It won’t give the American films a run for their money, but it’s the kind of character-driven picture that’s rarely made by Hollywood anymore. Nevermind that there’s little at stake in the film and unnecessarily melodramatic at times, the film is fun and comforting.

Rating: 4/5 atoms
NR 4 Atoms - B

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