Friday, October 5, 2018

A Glass Of Wine At The Movies - A Star Is Born

A Star Is Born

Rating: 14A (Canada) / R (USA)

Director: Bradley Cooper

Language: English

Length:  137 minutes

Cast: Bradley Cooper, Lady Gaga, Sam Elliott

Viewing Method: Regular Screening

Release Date: October 5, 2018

Synopsis: Seasoned musician Jackson Maine (Bradley Cooper) discovers -- and falls in love with -- struggling artist Ally (Lady Gaga). She has just about given up on her dream to make it big as a singer until Jackson coaxes her into the spotlight. But even as Ally's career takes off, the personal side of their relationship is breaking down, as Jackson fights an ongoing battle with his own internal demons.


The 2018 version of A Star Is Born is the fourth time this story is being told. It's familiar ground to many. There was even some question as to whether there could be anything unique to offer in such a well trodden story. This adaptation of the rise and fall of stardom not only offered up a unique perspective but proved the timelessness of the story.

The directing of this movie announces Cooper as a real talent. It is hard to believe that its his debut because the movie showcases a director with a good eye and the ability to pull out the emotional vulnerability that is needed from the actors. You can, at times, sense the youthfulness and excitement of a first time director, but one who has been attentive to his craft.

Bradley Cooper has directed himself to a career best performance. His Jackson Maine is an Eddie Vedder-esque musician who is an alcoholic with a gravely voice, swagger to spare, and an immense amount of charm. It's not just an emotional but physical transformation that happens here. His quiet drawl and speech that comes out as little more than a mumble are character choices that work to display Cooper's range. It's Cooper's movie in many ways. The character of Jackson has the focus that is not typical of the male role in the previous adaptations. The added elements to Jackson's character, complete with a more sympathetic approach, ensure Cooper's acting talent is on full display. His portrayal of someone struggling with addiction not only feels deeply authentic but entrenched in who the character is. Cooper nails each stumble Jackson takes. He makes your heart break with every choice he makes. He's so mesmerizing in this that, for me, he easily outshines everyone else. The Academy can go ahead and just give him the Oscar already in my opinion.

Lady Gaga's singing voice was never going to be in question. Her musical chops have been proven many times over. Her acting talent was a little more of a mystery. Her turn as the Countess in American Horror Story was impressive, but still very on brand for the singer. Ally is an entirely different type of character for her to embody and she does so incredibly well. The beginning of the movie starts a little rocky but she quickly grows comfortable and offers a performance that will put her on the map as a legitimate actress. Gaga's Ally works because Gaga was able to tap into something inside herself that allowed the more unsure, timid side of the character to come out. She allowed herself to be vulnerable and there is something commendable in that.

This is a love story and therefore chemistry is incredibly important. Cooper and Gaga have it in spades. You believe in Ally and Jack's love story because it seems impossible that they wouldn't fall in love. There are moments, like when Ally is creating 'Shallow' and she sings the lyrics 'I'm falling' and you can read on her face that she is. That emotional connection makes the inevitable ending sting all the more and makes their romance all the sweeter.

The soundtrack is, as expected, stellar. I had goosebumps multiple times during the movie. The first time Jack and Ally perform 'Shallow' together is electric. You feel the elation and energy Ally must be feeling. You feel the joy Jackson has at performing with Ally. You quite literally feel Ally take those first steps to becoming a star. You feel them fall in love. It's easily one of my favourite movie musical moments. I was also caught off guard by 'Always Remember Us This Way'. It's an emotional, beautiful ballad that Lady Gaga soars on. The final closing song is the tearjerker moment that it needs to be and another big ballad that I predict will resonate with a lot of people.

Another thing this movie does incredibly well is contrast the highs and lows of stardom. The rush of performing in front of thousands is present along with the darker moments when the performer is off the stage. The character of Jackson is the embodiment of this. The character's need to fill that void is palpable. It also makes his fall all the more brutal.

This movie justifies it being the fourth remake of this story because the people making it found a new and interesting way to tell a well worn story. There is something both nostalgic and fresh about Jack and Ally's love story. It's an emotional ride that offers more than just a heartbreaking love story. I find it hard to imagine anything will top this in terms of being my favourite movie of the year.

1 comment:

  1. Love your review! I'm one of those very few people on the planet that haven't seen the original story, and I feel like I'm missing out. I've always been a fan of Bradley and I'm curious about what Lady Gaga can do in acting (I haven't seen AHS). I'll definitely see this movie. Thank you for sharing your thoughts.


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