A special thanks to Undertow Media and Warner Bros for hooking us up with a ticket to the premiere!
A Star is Born isn’t a movie that I would have normally gone to see, I hoped for at best a dull but competent love story. I wasn’t really prepared for what I got.
Bradley Cooper in his directorial debut gives a complex performance as veteran musician Jackson Maine delivering real depth managing to steer away from the well worn washed up rock-star stereotypes.
Lady Gaga plays amateur singer Ally and acts like a regular human being for the entire movie which is completely disarming. Her acting is fantastic throughout and gives a very real performance without seeming stilted or out of her depth.
Sam Elliot is Bobby, Jackson’s older brother, his handler, father figure by default and voice of reason who bears a lot of the weight of living in his brothers shadow and seeing their fathers self destructive path play itself out again.
Jackson Maine (Cooper) a Country/Rock star whose star is fading, age, hearing loss and substance abuse is taking a savage toll on not only himself but his career and those around him. On a random bender he sees Ally (Gaga) perform and is inspired by her passion and talent.
Jackson and Ally quickly bond over music and is reluctantly swept up into the limelight. Ally soon realizes Jackson is a man with a complicated past and a bunch of problems being only just held together by his brother and stage manager Bobby (Elliot) who has had just about enough of his brothers self destructive path.
As Ally’s career and relationship with Jackson starts to blossom Jackson has to confront his own journey to stardom, ego and decline.
A Star is Born moves at a brisk pace and the passage of time is often compressed which is an obvious editing choice but removes a lot of the connecting scenes so things just seem to go from one thing to the next suddenly.
It is a little hard to swallow Ally’s insecurity over her looks, going into the “oh people who look like me don’t become stars” not only is Lady Gaga way above average, a lot of very talented female musicians who’s talent comes before looks have gone on to have successful careers.
There is some heavy forshadowing early in the movie and of course you are waiting for it all to go wrong from the beginning, and it does in the most uncomfortable ways.
Also there is an odd hypocrisy to a movie preaching the evils of the soulless pop music machine when Gaga has made a career from it. I rate Gaga way above a lot of vapid manufactured pop-stars but it does leave you pondering these issues after the movie ends.
The Good Stuff
Gaga is a delight to watch. I expect a best actress nomination if not a win. You can see volumes of unspoken emotions written across her face saying more than words could. She not only shows up other musicians turned actors but some seasoned actors too.
Sam Elliot is fantastic, there’s one scene you’ll know it when it happens, where you can just see an entire life of emotions held stoically behind his eyes. Best supporting nomination.
The music which is such an integral part of the move is memorable, raw and really kicks ass which I didn’t expect. A Star is Born is a lot more Rock and Roll than Country and only a tiny part pop.
Cooper not only directs a solid debut film, his performance is equal parts endearing, inspiring and infuriating. You are able to fill in unspoken blanks in his psychology without having it spoon fed to you. Best Director nomination. I just hope he takes a leak first before going up to accept his award.
This could have been a bog standard hit the basics money maker, but under Bradley Coopers direction it far surpasses what it could have been in less nuanced hands.
Gaga as an actor is a true gem, she has put in the work and it paid off, JLo was never as good as this and still isn’t.
It is technically a remake of several prior films with the same name but A Star is Born shares more with Walk the Line than any of its predecessors.
Ladies just tell your guys this is an American Sniper prequel, by the time they figure it out they will be into it.
There is enough drunken, drugging Cooper and loud Rock for the Guys and enough of a love story and Lady Gaga pop wish fulfillment for the Girls in this movie.
A movie star is literally born in this movie.
You’ll like it if you enjoy:
A perfect date night film.
Walk the line.
Great performances and great music.
Skip it if you:
Don’t want to turn in your mancard for the evening.
Aren’t a fan of romance and drama.
Can’t see past Lady Gaga and Rocket Raccoon singing love-songs together.
In Cinemas now