Directed by: Bradley Cooper
Cast: Lady Gaga, Bradley Cooper, Sam Elliot, Dave Chappelle
Rated: R for language throughout, some sexuality/nudity and substance abuse.
Run-time: 2 hours 16 mins
Music is essentially any note between twelve octaves. Twelve notes and the octave repeats. It’s the same story told over and over. All that the artist can offer the world is how they see those twelve notes.
A Star is Born hooked me right away with it’s fantastic trailer and I knew I wanted to step outside of my normal movie tastes to see this romantic drama. Watching the trailer, it hinted that it would have much more to say than a standard love story between two people. I also appreciate trailers that don’t spoil the entire plot of the movie, as there are few in recent memory that don’t.
I’m going to go out of my way to not spoil parts of this movie, because I think it has more of an impact the less you know from the start. At it’s core is the romance between famous musician, Jackson Maine (Bradley Cooper) and an undiscovered but very talented musician named Ally (Lady Gaga).
The love that the two share becomes a dramatic whirlwind journey, filled with ups and downs. It succeeds in painting a picture of what life behind the scenes for many famous musicians has probably been like. As the story unfolds, it will most likely be difficult to watch for many as a raw nerve is hit that has been in music news the last few years. This honestly is the biggest warning for A Star is Born; that it is not going to end the way you may think or want.
That being said, that’s what makes cinema powerful; when it has the ability to grab hold of you, show you a point of view you haven’t experience before and then make you feel something for it. The movie may end, but there is a discussion that still goes on. That is exactly what this film does.
This is actually the 4th telling of this story. The original released in 1937, staring Janet Gaynor and Fredric March. Since then there has been a musical in 1954 with Judy Garland and James Mason, another remake in 1976 with Barbra Streisand and Kris Kristofferson, and again now in 2018. I havent seen the previous versions, but seeing the quality of this newest one makes me want to check them out.
The music is top notch throughout. This isn’t surprising considering some of the names attached, including Willie Nelson’s son Lukas Nelson, who was Bradley Cooper’s music advisor.
Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga are the duet you didn’t know you needed.
There is no denying that Bradley Cooper is a fantastic actor. Whether he’s portraying a famous musician, a hungover friend, an American sniper, or even a genetically enhanced talking raccoon with a proclivity for machine guns, he gives everything he has to his craft, every time. However, A Star is Born is Cooper’s debut as a director, and it’s clear he is just as talented no matter which side of the camera he’s on. He didn’t stop there though; he also co-wrote the screenplay as well as some of the music. He even sang his character’s songs in the movie. Cooper literally poured all of himself into this movie and it shows. I actually forgot several times that Cooper isn’t actually a musician outside of the film.
Lady Gaga has the same effect, but in reverse. She is unquestionably talented as a musician. With this role, she has successfully expanded out of her comfort zone into acting, giving a fantastic performance. In many ways, her character Ally feels like a version of Gaga in real life. She’s defied and shattered the rules on what a hit singer and song writer is supposed to look like, and Ally struggles during the film with the same image stereotypes trying to be forced on her.
For such a world renown artist, it’s surprising how much down to earth innocence she brings to her character. She also is able to express a tremendous amount of emotion just through her eyes alone. I hope she continues to act, as she gives a powerful and moving performance here.
Sam Elliot has a supporting role as Jack’s older brother and manager, Bobby that compliments the tone of the film. He’s such an iconic acting legend that it doesn’t matter how much screen time he has; he always gives a great performance.
Jack was born much later in their parent’s lives and the two brothers have a contentious relationship. Neither one enjoy bringing up the pains of their past, but there’s one moment towards the end of the film where the two characters finally have a brief moment of honesty and it is a powerful scene.
The chemistry between Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga is the driving force of A Star is Born. The movie has powerful music and acting that is as beautiful as it is heartbreaking. Make sure you have your tissues close by.
Cinematic Quality: 4 out of 5
Enjoyment Factor: 4.5 out of 5
Worth the price of admission: 4 out of 5
Re-watch Value: 3.5 out of 5 (depends on how you like your movies to end)