From the moment Lady Gaga was cast in this fourth big-screen iteration of A Star Is Born, everyone involved must have been thrilled to have its title take on such an obvious double meaning. She is, of course, already a global superstar, but as her character Ally increases in fame and status throughout the film so too does the evidence that Gaga has everything it takes to be a movie star too.
She’s the beating heart and soaring soul of this gloriously heartfelt and soulful film, a wildly successful directorial debut for Bradley Cooper. Ally, a performer at a drag bar, is discovered by country-rock superstar Jackson Maine (Cooper), and, by setting her talent alongside his love and industry cachet, she rises meteorically into fame and acclaim.
Ally and Jackson’s relationship is beautifully acted, and, though it takes some relatively predictable paths, it never feels bound to convention. Jackson is a drunk and an addict, a problem that doesn’t just pop up to advance the plot, but instead leaves an ever-present spectre. To have it neither overpower the film or be forgotten about is a rare feat.
The real power of A Star Is Born, though, is its songs. A series of rousing original compositions that are bound to top charts upon release, their performances are spectacularly staged. Ally’s first stadium gig is transcendent and will leave you weak at the knees, while Jackson’s gentle rendition of a love song in their home is heart-rending in its soft intimacy.
Cooper pulls this all off with a remarkably steady hand, technically ambitious and happy to sometimes let his fantastic visuals do the story work. A Star Is Born is a clear front-runner for Best Picture, and absolutely deserves to be put up as one of the year’s best films.
CAST: Lady Gaga, Bradley Cooper, Sam Elliott, Dave Chappelle, Anthony Ramos, Andrew Dice Clay
DIRECTOR: Bradley Cooper
WRITERS: Bradley Cooper, Eric Roth, Will Fetters
SYNOPSIS: A musician helps a young singer and actress find fame, even as age and alcoholism send his own career into a downward spiral.