Directed by: Bradley Cooper
Written by: Will Fetters, Eric Roth, Bradley Cooper
Starring: Bradley Cooper, Lady Gaga, Sam Elliot, Andrew Dice Clay, Dave Chapelle
Runtime: 135 min
In this new take on the tragic love story, Bradley Cooper plays seasoned musician Jackson Maine, who discovers and falls in love with struggling artist Ally (Lady Gaga). 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 a world filled with disappointing reboots, sequels and prequels, A Star Is Born is a franchise built on critically-acclaimed remakes. The 1937 original film was a phenomenal success, and it received tons of awards and nominations, as the next two remakes (1954 and 1976) also did. So, Bradley Cooper had a tremendously tough job, especially since he is both the director, co-writer and male protagonist.
He proves that not only he is an outstanding actor but also a pretty good director. He definitely has a bright future regarding this role, and he knows it. However, he undoubtedly shines as Jackson Maine, probably delivering his career-best performance. The range and emotion that he is able to bring to his character are Oscar-worthy. In fact, everyone deserves massive credit for what they have accomplished.
Lady Gaga has shown in the past that she can be a very compelling actress, but I can't remember the last one to receive such a perfect character like Ally is for Gaga. I mean, it's not like Ally is Gaga, but it's undeniable the ease and comfort that the latter has in dealing with her character's personality. Despite this, she still surprises me and delivers such a beautiful and genuine display. I can also see her getting some nominations, but so far no one can beat Toni Collette on Hereditary.
Nevertheless, a lot of people are going to overlook what might be the clearest award to give this year: Sam Elliot (Bobby) as Supporting Actor. When one of the most heartfelt and touching moments of the film comes from a no-dialogue scene with Elliot merely backing up his car, you know he's got the award in his pocket. Brilliant performance, filled with seamless acting. The biggest praise I can give to a movie's acting is that everything feels authentic and honest. It never crossed my mind that I was watching fictional characters because both the actors and the script depict life in such a ... lifelike way.
Cooper and Gaga's chemistry is palpable, and that alone carries the entire story. As expected, since this isn't an original story (this sort of screenplay has been tackled hundreds of times), it gets a bit too long during the second act, becoming repetitive in its events and predictable. Nonetheless, the protagonists are so remarkably written and represented by such astonishing actors, that it is impossible to become bored. Every dialogue has meaning, every character moment is essential, and I couldn't get tired of watching Jackson and Ally going through their relationship.
As I wrote above, Cooper's direction is pretty great. After reading some of his interviews and understanding how he filmed some scenes with such a low budget, I can't help but get genuinely proud of his work. From the chill-inducing stages with huge audiences to the uncut spectacles, he is a man who understands the craft. Everything is real. The stages, the spectators, the live concert ... Even if it wasn't live and they were lip-syncing, it's still jaw-droppingly impressive.
My only issue regarding those on-stage scenes is the excessive use of shaky-cam. I understand that it might be necessary maybe to hide Cooper's inevitable mistakes playing the guitar or even his singing, but it reached a point where it was really giving me a headache. Despite this, I can't recall the last film that had so many original songs exclusively written for itself.
As a music lover, I can't help but praise the marvellous songs and their passionate lyrics. Lady Gaga is one of the best voices of this generation, and she delivers some beautiful vocals. If Bradley Cooper's voice really sounds like that (apparently he went through years of training), then he's not human. If he was just lip-syncing, well ... He's a brilliant actor, then. Either way, the emotions and chills that the songs are able to generate are quite real, and I can't wait to listen to the whole soundtrack again.
This movie has a beautiful message, and nowadays it feels that films no longer focus on that. Cooper and his team of writers achieved a fantastic screenplay which tells such a meaningful narrative. It has everything, from romantic, happy and musically amazing moments to more dramatically profound, sad and tragic scenes. Admittedly, it will leave a lot of people crying, and I love the ending, even if it is predictable.
All in all, A Star Is Born's fourth remake continues the successful tendency at reincarnating the original's essence. Bradley Cooper is a gifted actor, soon to be an Oscar-nominated one, as well as a director with a bright future. Lady Gaga proves that she can also be an actress as amazing as she is a singer and Sam Elliot is a shoe-in for Best Supporting Actor. A wonderful retelling of a tremendously emotional and dramatic story, filled with tears-inducing original songs and incredible chemistry between Cooper and Gaga, who carry the whole show. Go see it, bring some tissues and prepare to become addicted to its soundtrack.