Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga go for gold in this unconventional musical spliced with a dramatic heavyweight.
I went into A Star is Born without seeing any promo, reading any reviews, and not expecting too much, and proceeded to get blown off my feet by a beautiful, powerful, and raw drama about a rockstar on the backend of his career, who falls in love with a gifted songwriter and helps her launch her own career as his fades. A Star is Born is technically the fourth remake of a story that last was treated to a pretty bad Barbra Streisand and Kris Kristofferson retelling. But this version, directed by Bradley Cooper (who also stars) and written by Cooper, Eric Roth, and Will Fetters is something all its own in every respect. Cooper and Gaga decide to do a bit of job switching as he writes and performs while she acts, and it works incredibly well. Their chemistry is undeniable and is what keeps the film engaging when it otherwise might teeter on the verge of losing some of its audience. Cooper hits it out of the park in his directorial debut, using his lens to capture every bit of emotion in his characters and further immerse us in his story. But even more impressive is Lady Gaga in her proper acting debut. She crushes her role as Ally and demands our full attention and respect as a serious actress.
When we first meet our main characters, Jackson Maine (Cooper) is playing a sold out show while on the verge of being too drunk to stand, and Ally is breaking up with her boyfriend over the phone in the bathroom at her job as a waitress. They both end up at a drag bar late at night, Jackson because it’s the closest place with booze, and Ally because it’s the only place she’s able to sing, and boy can she. As she belts out a rendition of “La Vie en Rose,” it becomes clear to Jackson, and the rest of us that Ally is destined to be a star. He helps launch her career into the mainstream, and as her career starts to take off and his continues to fall to the wayside, it’s all too easy to see where this story is headed. But just because the audience might start to see the story unraveling ahead of time doesn’t mean they don’t stay firmly planted in their seats until the final credits roll, as A Star is Born offers more than enough to keep us around without resorting to clichés or just throwing in another song for the hell of it.
The story hits hard and never pulls punches, there is a lot to be said here about mainstream pop music, it’s replaceability, and the hardships of fame. A Star is Born hits on all levels. With great acting, direction, and a superb original soundtrack that plays like its own character. The soundtrack alone is instant Oscar material, with the actual film hot on its trail. A Star is Born is not a conventional musical, but it’s a rocking, romping success that is worth every second. It will have you singing, soaring, and crying along at every turn.