A Star Is Born review - not your average Hollywood remake
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Verdict: Even the toughest of hearts will be broken by the end of this musical meets love story.
Bradley Cooper has flown under the radar for the past few years with his acting performances, with his last significantly successful year being back in 2015 when he was nominated for best actor at the Academy Awards, for his role in American Sniper (2014). He well and truly arrives back on the scene with his directorial debut A Star is Born (2018).
Although the film is the fourth remake of the 1937, 1954, and 1976 film of the same name, it feels like an entirely new and fresh story, with Lady Gaga and Cooper making the roles their own.
The film follows Jackson ‘Jack’ Maine (Cooper) who is on the verge of becoming a washed-up rock star. By chance, he stumbles across aspiring singer Ally (Gaga) who is performing in a bar, and it’s love at first sight for Jack, who takes Ally under his wing and helps her to launch her music career.
Ally’s career naturally begins to eclipse Jack’s and as she rises, he falls, and the rest of the film centres around the juxtaposition of her success and his downfall. We even get to see Bradley Cooper wet himself on stage - that alone is worth the cinema trip.
Although it might not mean to be, A Star Is Born is a window into the systemic underlying sexism within the music industry. Jack is a mess in both life and appearance and walks on stage with nothing but his guitar and receives praise from his hoards of fans. Ally is arguably ecliptic of Jack in talent and yet she’s forced into tiny clothes, given a group of backing dancers and told to dye her hair platinum blonde.
Ally is an incredible songwriter whose emotional tracks become fan favourites when she sings with Jack, but her own pop songs revolve around tight jeans and ‘ass’. In a post #MeToo Hollywood this seems particularly poignant, and although it is only a small part of the plot, it’s there and it’s clear.
On the surface, this film is a story about love and music, but it’s so much more than that. The taboo topic of male mental health is tackled beautifully by Cooper, whose vulnerability as Jack will have you rooting for him as well as being furious with him. A Star Is Born conjures up just about every single emotion you can feel in 2 hours and 17 minutes. The last scene is one of the most heartbreaking moments in 21st-century cinema and Gaga’s portrayal as Ally in those final few moments of the film, is stunning. It would frankly be a crime for her not to win an Oscar.
As expected, the soundtrack is magnificent. Lady Gaga shows us that over 10 years since ‘The Fame’ was released she is nowhere near the end of the career; in fact, it’s just the beginning. A Star is Born received an eight-minute standing ovation at the Venice Film Festival and it’s not hard to see why.
Very few actors in 2018 are gifted with a true old Hollywood talent. The mixture of a truly relatable way of delivering dialogue combined with a truly magical on-screen presence is very hard to find, but Bradley Cooper found it in Lady Gaga. By the end of the film, a star truly has been born.
A Star Is Born is in cinemas now.