Bradley Cooper’s directorial debut ‘A Star Is Born’ marks the third remake of the original 1937 film. Starring himself and Lady Gaga in the leading roles the film follows famous musician, Jackson Maine (Cooper) as he discovers Ally (Gaga), a singer songwriter struggling to make it in the music industry. So would this musical remake be able to hit the cinematic high notes or simply end up out of tune with contemporary audiences?
The film skillfully updates its story for its modern viewers embracing todays culture in so many different ways. It offers an interesting discussion on the manufacturing of musicians by and for the industry and plays with the idea of authenticity versus commercialism in a engaging and thought provoking way. However these are largely secondary elements to appreciate from the narrative as it’s the central relationship between Jackson and Ally and with their music which proves most compelling. As a whole the narrative starts very strong and quickly gains momentum thanks to its comedic and exciting content peaking with the first full version of ‘Shallow’ heard in the film’s trailer. After this goosebump inducing musical interlude the film isn’t as consistent with its pace. The narrative’s more complex content makes this difficult and as a result isn’t quite as engaging as the film’s brilliant beginning. However, Cooper and co. bring it back as everything comes together really well in the end providing a fitting and emotive finale for this powerhouse of a project.
Often a musical is only as good as its songs, and if you’re to judge the film solely on this ‘A Star Is Born’ is excellent. It’s no surprise with such a talent as Lady Gaga attached to the film. All of her musical performances are incredible, showcasing her amazing talent so well. However, she brings an added level of performance to these moments as she’s performing as her character Ally and not herself. She manages this expertly telling the story of the film as well as contributing her astonishing vocals to the soundtrack. What’s maybe more surprising though is just how great Bradley Cooper is in these moments too. His talent as a musician I’m sure will be unknown to most but you’d be forgiven for thinking that he’d been playing huge gigs all around the world for his whole life. Their voices blend so well together and their musical chemistry really is the beating heart of the film. Music aside though both lead stars are superb in their respective roles too with Gaga stripping herself of all the glitz and madness of her usual persona reinventing herself for this role and Cooper bringing a raw portrayal of romance and addiction against the backdrop of fame in spectacular fashion.
‘A Star Is Born’ is such an appropriate name for this film, it’s obviously applicable to the story but to both of it’s lead stars too. Of course both are already stars in their own right but with what they have achieved here, Cooper’s directing and Gaga’s leading performance, we are hopefully witness to the birth of a whole new stage in both of these artists already remarkable careers. Consequently this is a remake well worth your time and one that could and should be celebrated across the board come awards season.
Written by Hamish Calvert
Rating – 8.5/10
Question: What is your all time favorite song from a film musical?
(Leave your answers in the comments section below!)
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Thanks to Movie House Cinemas for screening access