This marks the fourth remake of A Star Is Born and in an age where so many them destroy the spirit of the original, this one manages to hit all the right notes.
This time around, Bradley Cooper not only stars but also makes his directorial debut and it is an all-encompassing, tour de force experience. He provides sensational, confident direction, but his performance ranks among his best coupled with the fact that he does all his own singing and playing guitar to make it feel even authentic.
Oh, and he also performed live for some sequences that were incorporated into the movie.
Cooper stars as Jackson Maine, a famous country singer who sells out arenas and one night after his show, he walks into a bar and discovers a waitress named Ally (Lady Gaga) who also has dreams of being a songwriter. Jackson takes her under his wing and together the two of them work on fine-tuning their craft and then Ally gets some recognition after performing at one of Jackson’s concerts. Their duet of “Shallow” is goose bump-inducing.
Jackson and Ally’s relationship and careers get taken to a new level after they get married, but it isn’t long before Jackson’s demons come back to haunt him in the form of drug and alcohol addiction. Not to mention, he doesn’t get too crazy about her new foray into the world of pop.
I’ve already praised Cooper for his acting and directing abilities in addition to his talent as a singer, but now let me turn my attention to Lady Gaga. Where do I begin?
She is an absolute knockout both in terms of singing and acting. She brings a perfect storm of talent, humor, and a vulnerability that doesn’t seem artificial. We laugh with her. We cry with her. We root for her. Again, no false notes.
The other supporting performances are equally effective including Sam Elliott as Cooper’s older brother whom he has a rather tumultuous relationship. There’s even some surprisingly solid turns from the likes of Andrew Dice Clay as Gaga’s father and Dave Chappelle as Jackson’s oldest friend. Who knew?
The music stays with you long after it’s over and will no doubt score some Oscar nominations and the rest of the film finds an incredible balance of being wonderfully quiet with thoughtful dialogue and the other half is painfully, excruciatingly honest and raw.
Again, I reiterate when the Oscars are announced next year, Cooper and Gaga better plan to wake up early that morning. This remake deserves both a standing ovation and an encore.
(Rated R for language throughout, some sexuality/nudity, and substance abuse.)