Two's company, three's a crowd - but when it comes to A Star is Born four times is a roaring spectacle. Bradley Cooper sets himself a mighty challenge choosing a thrice told classic about rising stardom as his directorial debut, following the 1937 original with Janet Gaynor, the 1954 version with Judy Garland, and the classic 1976 with Barbra Streisand. It's a tale as old as time yet somehow Cooper finds a fascinating way to translate for the modern generation. In front of the camera he leads with pop princess Lady Gaga - a maverick country singer helps a young musician rise to fame, whilst he fights drugs and alcohol as his career spirals downwards.
All the stars align in this utterly heartbreaking and thought-provoking portrayal of the modern music industry. Once Cooper strums his strings and Gaga's voice booms towards the back of your auditorium, you'll find yourself frantically scrambling on the floor trying to retrieve your jaw. Goosebumps aside A Star is Born shines brightly, with Cooper skilfully managing to weave in the contemporary challenges of substance abuse and image expectations, all wrapped up in a moody La La Land-esque reality. A Star is Born is beautiful because it doesn't seek to avoid the sad realities of modern life and the often brutal music industry. Unquestionably harsh but remarkably honest, regardless of its uplifting ad campaign, A Star is Born really isn't for the faint hearted.
You will go gaga for this potent double-act. Lady Gaga stuns in her debut leading role, after years as such an eccentric stage presence she burst onto the silver screen with a resounding portrayal of a young, fiery rising star. At the other end of the scale we have Cooper sharing the spotlight in equally stunning style. Turning in a coarse, fragmented performance as a declining country singer, he matches Gaga scene by scene, making A Star is Born’s frequent dramas just that little bit more gut punching. Working and singing together in perfect, expressive harmony Gaga and Cooper pull no punches, producing a tense and immensely spontaneous relationship that develops rapidly but wilts agonisingly. A Star is Born scores a hat trick - Gaga and Cooper smouldering in front of the camera, driven by Cooper's slow-buring, delicate direction from behind it.
Capturing that surreal sense of the rock and roll lifestyle, Cooper never shoots beyond the stage or outside of the room. When his character Jack and Ally (Gaga) are performing the camera is fixed on them, whilst they absorb the roaring response of the crowd. A Star is Born juxtaposes two careers heading in opposite directions, one rising and one in decline. Addressing the vanity of the modern music industry and through some very distressing moments, the film suggests that art dies to be replaced by fame, concluding - perhaps - that the very famous are moulded by societies demands rather than their own originality.
Cooper’s directorial debut will leave you star-struck. Gaga is a sensation, bolstered by Cooper's tormented performance - enabling this tour bus to blaze onwards. Although it drags towards the third act and could've done with some edits here and there, it A Star is Born will astonish, charm and ruthlessly tear your heart out.
A Star is Born:
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Hi I’m James - a huge welcome to my film blog! I started this site just after my 14th birthday and have been bringing you my own take on the hottest box office arrivals and many art house triumphs ever since.