A Star Is Born Review
What’s It About?
A troubled yet renowned musician is enchanted by an aspiring singer. As the pair fall in love, their future looks set to head in different directions.
Who’s In It?
Bradley Cooper (The Hangover I-III, Silver Linings Playbook, American Sniper, & more recently Guardians Of The Galaxy: Vol 2)
Lady Gaga (Machete Kills, Sin City: A Dame To Kill For, & more recently American Horror Story: Apocalypse)
Other notables include:
Sam Elliott (Buffalo Girls, The Big Lebowski, & more recently Justified)
Director: Bradley Cooper (debut)
Despite being the fourth incarnation of this story – and with the 1954 Judy Garland and 1976 Barbra Streisand versions still held dear by many – this latest one feels very fresh and contemporary.
A tricky project to take on at best, but when you throw in only live performances for the musical numbers, a relatively untried and untested lead actress in Lady Gaga, then as a studio you’re going to want a safe pair of hands, and not a rookie. And yet, that is exactly what Bradley Cooper is.
Despite learning from many of the best as an actor, such as Clint Eastwood on American Sniper, or David O Russell on Silver Linings Playbook, Cooper snagged the gig as first time director, along with co-screenwriter, lead actor and producer. And for what it’s worth, he’s done a brilliant job across the board.
The story follows previous ones with a few tweaks, as world renowned country musician Jackson Maine is still at the top, filling stadiums and sounding pretty great. But what people are seeing is not the reality, and he is struggling mentally, with addiction and debilitating tinnitus. In short, things are looking like they are going south pretty sharpish.
But then, one night, in search for more booze, he stumbles – quite literally – into a drag bar where an aspiring singer happens to perform – and she blows him away. Enchanted by her and astonished by her talent, he takes her under his wing, while the pair fall in love with a bright future in store. But as his protégé begins to soar, some of Maine’s demons begin to return.
Lady Gaga, gives a wonderful performance as Ally, the aspiring singer infusing her character with raw talent (predictably) but plenty of vulnerability and self-doubt to make this newcomer seem utterly believable. Despite being the star of the title however, it is Bradley Cooper who really steps up to the plate. As an actor, he delivers one of his finest performances with incredible musical performances, but an incredible representation of a man on the precipice, desperately trying to cling on.
As a director, he delivers a wonderful emotionally impactful film, with incredible sound and outstanding performances across the board in what is an unbelievable debut.
In A Nutshell:
An incredible, impactful film from a debut director, who has teased out two truly remarkable performances.
One of Bradley Cooper's finest acting performances
Bradley Cooper's remarkable directorial debut
Lady Gaga's turn
Sam Elliott's small but wondrous performance
The weak characterisation of the record producer