A Star Is Born Review
A Powerful Story of Inner Struggle
When it comes to remakes, it can be annoying seeing the same thing over and over again. Not only is this film a remake, but it is the fourth time that this film has been remade. The challenge then becomes to be able to make a familiar story still seem fresh and new with each incarnation. Bradley Cooper has done a masterful job of taking a well known story and adding elements to it that make it feel unique and original.
Cooper plays Jackson Maine, an experienced musician who has been famous in the industry for a while. After one of his performances, he stops by a bar where he meets Ally (Lady Gaga), a girl with a beautiful voice who is struggling to start her musical career. Jackson and Ally begin to have a romance and as her career takes off, Jackson struggles with his inner demons and drug addiction.
Cooper as Jackson is phenomenal. He brings so many layers of depth and complexity to a famed figure whose private life is hidden from the public eye. He has a genuine love for music and being an honest performer, but it is contrasting with his addictions and internal struggles. Cooper will definitely earn some sort of Oscar buzz for this because this is his best performance in years.
Lady Gaga has definitely cemented herself as a triple threat. She brings a lot of rawness and emotion to her role and its not only felt in her acting, but in her singing. She does a great job at staying in character while she sings, connecting the song with the story. When she sings, she owns the screen. She has such a powerful presence. What's interesting is that the arc that her character goes through is somewhat similar to the real Lady Gaga.
Gaga and Cooper have amazing chemistry throughout the film. This film really centers on their relationship and if you don't buy it, then the movie completely falls apart. Luckily, their relationship seems very genuine and is often touching and moving at times.
There are a couple side characters in this film that also give good performances. Sam Elliott plays Jackson's brother who truly cares for his brother, but can't stand to watch him destroy his life with his addiction. He has a couple scenes that may give him a best supporting actor nomination. Andrew Dice Clay plays Gaga's dad and he's good, but his main role is definitely the comedic relief for this film, which can get pretty heavy at times, so it's good to have some moments of levity. Dave Chappelle pops up very briefly, but he is good for the scenes that he is in.
This is Cooper's directorial debut and it's pretty hard to believe. This movie is very well crafted. He captures the relationship between these two characters so well that when something emotional occurs, it really just has an extra punch. The concert scenes are breathtaking. The sound and shots during the concert sequences really make you feel like you are on stage with Cooper just jamming out.
I also loved the way that he brings this story into the modern world. There are certain events that occur that help capture an artist's journey that would happen in the world today. I really liked seeing how Gaga's character developed in the current music industry, while Cooper struggled to adapt.
The one critique I do have with his directing is that the pacing is a bit off. I think there are scenes in the movie that could have been cut out. Now, these are not bad scenes, but they do add on to the run time which is pretty long at about 2 hours and 15 minutes, He might have directed a bit too much, even though it's not bad.
A film about musicians should have great music, and this movie definitely brings that element. The music is great. It's all original so there are no covers. The songs are very catchy at times, but very emotional at others. I think the Oscars will have to make a separate best original song category just for this movie. The song that Lady Gaga delivers at the end is heartbreaking and powerful, not only because of the context, but because of the powerful performance and lyrics attached. Also, surprise, Cooper can sing now, so there's another thing he can do besides act and direct. Even if you haven't seen the movie, I recommend listening to the soundtrack.
A Star is Born takes a simple plot but turns it into an impactful and complex story with a dynamic relationship at the center of it. The pacing may be a bit off and sometimes it can feel a bit long, but I was never taken out of this movie. My theater cried their eyes out at the end so it definitely is impactful to a lot of people. Cooper is now a force to be reckoned with in the director's chair and I can't wait to see what he does next.