A Star is Born

starisbornA Star is Born (Bradley Cooper, 2018) lotsa writers, including Eric Roth and the director

Bradley Cooper, Lady Gaga

A musician helps a young singer find fame, even as age and alcoholism send his own career into a downward spiral.

I don't know why either of them bothered to do this. It's the third remake! She has an enormously successful career as a singer, and he is an actor who can do anything.

I'm guessing she wanted both to show herself as she is (without costumes and wigs - even without clothes) and at the same time paradoxically show that she can act in a dramatic role. (And of course the part does require singing.) As for him, he gets to direct for the first time, while also playing the lead, and being onscreen for most of the film — and he gets to play a rock star, and who doesn't want to be a rock star? :)

It's a huge success. All of the above applies. It is actually moving, in a more profound way than your average backstage musical.

The lead performances are both extremely solid. Gaga subtly conveys Ally’s gradual growth in poise and confidence, and is as convincing as a down-on-her-luck wage slave as she is as a pop diva. Cooper meanwhile renders Jackson’s self-destructive tendencies alarming and pitiful, and does a fine job of appearing perpetually drunk without resorting to hammy theatrics. When his behaviour inevitably begin to jeopardise his relationship with Ally, confrontations between the pair are laudably muted; displays of intense emotion are instead largely held back for the musical numbers. Here, again, the film delivers the goods – in particular, The Shallows, the rousing power ballad that serves as Ally’s starmaker, is as strong as anything on Gaga’s stadium rock-tinged sophomore album Born this Way. Paul O'Callaghan, Sight & Sound.

Why A Star Is Born? Why now?
Because really, it’s the the oddest of classics. Most Hollywood love stories have happy endings, and the ones that don’t leave you with a certain wistful, heartstruck quality. You’d have to place A Star Is Born (every version of it) in the latter category, but even so, it’s not exactly Casablanca. It’s the story of a man — a star — who discovers a woman, and they fall in love, and she becomes a star, and he descends, and descends further still, and even her love can’t save him. The end. The critic Pauline Kael thought it was a plot booby-trapped to resist full-scale audience empathy, and she may, in a way, have been right. Watching A Star Is Born, who are we identifying with: the man, the woman, or both? Surely both, but where does that leave us? Devastated? Regretful? Somehow uplifted? Owen Gleiberman, Variety. [Definitely worth reading the whole piece.]

Like Bohemian Rhapsody, A Star is Born is a sentimental melodrama about a singer’s rise to fame - in this case, in tandem with the increasing alcoholism and general decline of her mentor, partner, and husband. Lady Gaga plays Ally, the ingenue who wins the heart of grizzled rocker Jack (played by Bradley Cooper, who also directs the film). Lots of people like Lady Gaga, which might account for this film’s popularity, but she, along with Cooper, seem to be straining hard to capture the viewer’s attention. They both lack the onscreen magnetism possessed by the two stars of an earlier version of the film, Barbra Streisand and Kris Kristofferson. That said, there is nothing very wrong with this film. It is engaging, in the sense that one watches it, doesn’t walk out of the cinema, and passes a couple of hours pleasantly – but there is also nothing notable here at a cinematic or technical level. Ari Mattes, The Conversation.

References and Links

Wikipedia page
IMDb page
Oscars 2019

Garry Gillard | reviews | New: 17 January, 2019 | Now: 19 February, 2019