It’s as old as tinseltown itself. The very first “Star” was released in April of 1937 with Oscar-winning actress Janet Gaynor and Frederic March. Three remakes and eighty-one years later, the film is back on the big screen. This time we with Bradley Cooper, who is making his directorial debut and singer songwriter ingenue Lady Gaga.
Country rocker Jackson Maine had just finished a successful concert. Liquored up, he heads into the city for yet more booze. He ends up at a drag bar where he is knocked by the winds or in this case the voice by Ally’s version of La Vie en Rose.
She complains about how the business likes her music but hates her looks specifically her nose. Jackson takes Ally under his wing to show the world the inner beauty and marvel that is Ally.
2018’s Star is story of love and exploration of fame, the music industry and the catastrophic consequences of alcoholism manages to transcend beyond its history. With outstanding performances that put Cooper and Lady Gaga at the top of their game and a directorial debut that cements Bradley Cooper as a talent to follow behind the camera.
By itself, the story would have done very little. Its predictable nature lends itself to an unflattering performance, but that’s not the plan of Bradley Cooper, who modernizes, renews with his style and puts at the center of everything the most improbable but energetic and nothing less than great actress who could have achieved, Lady Gaga. After having acted in the American Horror Story series, Gaga finally fulfills her dream of becoming an actress with this film, and incidentally, offers one of the best performances of the year in any category.
Cooper takes the opportunity to explore the ruthless monster that is the music industry, the glory and the demons that come with it, and each note causes a perfect melody that the actors, with the addition of legendary character Sam Elliott who plays Jackson’s older brother, Andrew Dice Clay is the plucky yet subtle comic relief as Ally’s father and Dave Chappelle, is one of Jackson’s old music buddies. They manage to elevate even more under the impeccable direction of Cooper, who prefers that the audience experience the music from the rambunctious and revealing stage.
From this perspective, the audience is submerged in the most intimate side of the creative process in which, like Jackson, succumb to the pressures and demands of fame. In the same way, the director places the audience in the middle of a rocky and rusty relationship due to the effects of the addiction. With Jackson’s tribulations, explored in detail, the audience receives a ticket in the front row to witness the decline and imminent disappearance of who at the time was an influential figure in music. Between babblings, posters and some other moment of clarity, Cooper’s skills look more polished than ever.
That same strength Cooper and Gaga apply to the love relationship between Jackson and Ally, it is the excellent chemistry between the two that manages to transmit in their sorrows & genuine emotions, captivating and tearing equally when history demands it.
Seldom does the title of a film reflect the circumstances of the talent involved, but with A Star is Born, the audience witnesses the birth of a future movie star in Gaga, and nothing less than a director to watch in Cooper.
Final Grade: A+