'A Star Is Born' Review
October 8, 2018
A Star Is Born is one of those classic Hollywood films that has stayed close to each generation that has experienced it. Whether it be the original from 1937 or the remakes in 1954 and 1976, people have adored the timeless story that preaches the value of hope and perseverance in the face of adversity. Now in 2018, the film is being remade for the third time, this time with director, writer, and star Bradley Cooper teaming up with Lady Gaga to tell the classic tale to a modern audience.
The film follows the relationship between music superstar Jackson Maine (Cooper) and aspiring singer Ally (Gaga). They quickly fall for each other after meeting and set out to share their love and music with the world. Because of this, Ally’s career starts to take off, while Jackson’s begins to crumble beneath his feet as he battles alcoholism and addiction. From this point, their lives begin to irreversibly change. They try to hold onto each other, but it becomes more and more difficult as they go down their own separate paths.
Bradley Cooper is a natural director and it is astonishing that this is his debut feature. It probably helps that over the past decade, he’s had the opportunity to learn from veteran directors like Clint Eastwood and David O. Russell.
Cooper possesses a ton of confidence and a queen eye for great visuals. The concert scenes are the highlight of the film as they bloom with bright colors and original music. It feels like we’re right there on stage with the main characters as they profess their love to each other while pouring all their emotions into the songs.
Cooper uses a high amount of close-ups of the character’s faces in order to tell the story. He also does well at letting scenes play out in a natural order rather than cutting them up. This creates a feeling of authenticity and rawness as the characters are allowed to feel like real people rather than the fictional stars that have been seen so many times before.
It’s well known that Cooper is the director and star, but what’s most surprising is that he also contributed to the script along with Eric Roth and Will Fetters. The dialogue between Cooper and Gaga is some of the most authentic speech you’ll find today. Every emotion possible is put on display as their contrasting journeys play out. They always feel like a real couple as they try to manage their relationship and the strain that fame has put on it.
In addition to the main plot, there is also a subplot between Maine and his older brother Bobby, who has acted as Jackson’s caretaker all his life. The brothers share a strong bond as they look back on their rough childhoods and re-examine how their relationship has changed over the years. While the subplot provides a good break from the main story and packs an emotional punch, there just needed to be more of it. The interactions between the brothers are few and far between, and by the end, it feels like a lot more could have been explored.
The legacy of A Star Is Born has been built on great acting from the leads. Cooper and Gaga more than live up to expectations and will surely be compared to the greats that have come before. Cooper probably gives his career-best performance as the country star fighting his own personal demons. With his lowered voice and grizzled face, Cooper’s character is a sad spectacle that exudes sympathy as his journey takes him lower and lower. He also lends his voice to some great music as he and Gaga light up the stage together.
While Cooper is terrific, the show belongs to Lady Gaga as Ally. Even though she’s a superstar singer in the real world, Gaga hides all of that behind her transcendental performance as every girl trying to get ahead. She's the heart of the film as she delivers each line with perfection. Her chemistry with Cooper is second to none as they simultaneously explore the effects that fame has on a person. Lastly, Sam Elliott also gives a career-best as Bobby. He doesn’t get much screen time, but he makes every second count as he plays a character battling his past and the effects it has had on his life.
A Star Is Born has everything going for it; great directing, a powerful story, amazing original songs, and two leads who couldn’t be closer. It’s the best film of the year (so far) and will become an instant classic, one that will be played and remembered by this generation for years to come.