A Star is Born, 2018.
Directed by Bradley Cooper.0
Starring Bradley Cooper, Lady Gaga, Sam Elliot, Anthony Ramos, Dave Chapelle, Andrew Dice Clay, Rafi Gavron and Rebecca Field.
Seasoned musician Jackson Maine discovers—and falls in love with—struggling artist Ally. She has just about given up on her dream to make it big as a singer until Jack coaxes her into the spotlight. But even as Ally’s career takes off, the personal side of their relationship is breaking down as Jack fights an ongoing battle with his own internal demons.
In the latest remake for A Star Is Born, Bradley Cooper makes his directorial debut that stars himself and superstar singer Lady Gaga in the lead roles of Jackson Maine and the up-and-comer Ally. It’s always interesting to see actors take on the director’s chair, especially for the third remake of a classic film, but Cooper succeeds in giving the film a fresh update that is very well-directed. He and Gaga deliver a pair of great performances that is heartfelt, entertaining and, most of all, authentic with Gaga being a clear standout.
Cooper gives a very good performance as Jackson Main, a popular singer who is struggling with alcoholism and may be seeing the sun setting a little too early on his already long and successful career. He captures the pain that Jack hides deep within and just how dependent he is on booze and drugs very well. There’s a balance Cooper finds between the dramatic and comedic elements to Jackson, showing the more redeeming qualities he has while sharing some nice chemistry with all the members of the cast no matter their amount of screentime. Its a fine performance and one of Cooper’s best in his career thus far.
The real scene stealer of the film, however, is Lady Gaga in her first major film feature role. Gaga gives a very earnest performance as Ally that makes you feel the emotion from her character as she goes on this journey to stardom. The word authentic comes to mind again for Gaga’s performance and perhaps its because she herself has lived that same journey Ally is on that makes her so good in the role, but Gaga really sells it and has a believable connection with Cooper. You feel for Ally and want her to succeed in both her career and relationship with Jack despite their ups and downs. She captures the emotion quite well throughout the film.
Both Cooper and Gaga don’t just give great acting performances, but singing ones as well. Cooper’s vocal lessons paid off as he sings very well in his musical performances. He does well showing the subtle differences in Jack’s on-stage personality and ability before and after Ally enters his life that shows just how energetic he can be. It should come as no surprise, though, that Gaga again delivers the film’s best musical performances whether its singing on-stage to thousands or practicing in a parking lot. The decision to film the performances live rather than have them lip-sync (a decision that Gaga pushed for) ultimately gives Cooper and Gaga more emotive power that makes you connect with them and their songs on a much higher level.
The supporting cast does well with their roles as well. Of the supporting cast, Sam Elliot does a good job as Jack’s older brother and manager who is often at odds with Jack while Rafi Gavron toes the line between a respectable and uncaring manager/producer for Ally. Dave Chappelle is also a standout, though he’s not in the film for that much and his relationship with Jack isn’t made entirely clear. Chappelle puts in some great work with the time he has that is both comedic and dramatic with Cooper, but it would have benefited much more to explore more of his character and the history between him and Jack to better flesh their relationship out.
A Star Is Born moves along at a nice pace as Cooper takes the time to explore Jack and Ally’s journeys without making them feel slow or uninteresting. The film also has some beautiful visuals thanks to cinematographer Matthew Libatique, from the concert venues, stage performances to just sitting around. There’s a nice fluidity to the camera movements and scene progressions that keep you riveted. Cooper’s exploration of the ways fame can get to people, the ever-changing landscape of the music industry and the importance of staying true to your voice are all layered themes that inform the decisions of each character.
Even though this marks the fourth time A Star Is Born has been made, Cooper and Gaga manage to find something new to say within their story while creating some interesting and entertaining characters. Their ruminations on the power of music and having a voice should relate to more than just musicians and music fans, but to anyone in the arts who wants their voice heard. While some characters could have been better explored, the performances from the whole cast are great, but Gaga is the most memorable one while Cooper’s direction on the whole film is exceptional. It’s pretty great work for both of their debuts that captures the emotions behind this film.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ ★ ★/ Movie: ★ ★ ★ ★