“A Star is Born,” stars four-time Oscar nominee Bradley Cooper (“American Sniper,” “American Hustle,” “Silver Linings Playbook”) and multiple award-winning, Oscar-nominated music superstar Lady Gaga, in her first leading role in a major motion picture. Cooper helms the film, marking his directorial debut. In this new take on the tragic love story, he plays seasoned musician Jackson Maine, who discovers—and falls in love with—struggling artist Ally (Gaga). She has just about given up on her dream to make it big as a singer… until Jack coaxes her into the spotlight. But even as Ally’s career takes off, the personal side of their relationship is breaking down, as Jack fights an ongoing battle with his own internal demons.
What We Thought:
I liked A Star Is Born, I liked it a lot actually, but man did I want to love it. Like most films this year, its biggest flaw is its runtime. It’s over two hours long and it just shouldn’t be. If it came in around an hour and 50 minutes, I might have liked it more. With such a long movie, there are parts that ultimately aren’t necessary or just aren’t as good as the rest of the movie.
If you aren’t familiar with the previous versions of the film, yes it’s a remake for those living under a rock, this follows the pattern of the on-his-way-out performer finding a new undiscovered talent. Bradley Cooper plays hard living, hard drinking, pill taking rocker Jackson Maine. After a show, he ends up at a drag bar where he sees Ally (Lady Gaga) sing and instantly knows the girl has talent. They spend the night talking about life and music and he has his driver pick her up the next day to bring her to his show. He pulls her on stage and what follows is your standard love story, rise to fame, issues with each other story we’ve seen before.
Now that’s not a negative because Cooper and Lady Gaga are both pretty fantastic in their roles. Cooper channels his inner Eddie Vedder on stage and even mumbles like the Pearl Jam frontman. The 1970’s version of the film saw Kris Kristofferson in the role and the torch was passed on very smoothly. Sure it might not be that difficult for the good looking Cooper to play a good looking man with stage presence, but I expect award nominations for his performance, at least a Golden Globe nod.
Then there’s Lady Gaga. I know she’s done some acting in things like American Horror Story, but like Cooper, I highly expect nominations to come her way as well. I was pretty floored by her performance. She obviously can sing, but if I didn’t know it was her prior to seeing the movie, I wouldn’t have had a clue while watching it. I’m not a fan of her music per se, but damn does she have pipes. When she’s singing on stage with Cooper’s rock band, you 100% believe she’s a rocker chick and not someone known for a meat dress and back up dancers. I don’t know about an Oscar nom, but a Best Actress Musical/Comedy Golden Globe nominee should be a given.
The supporting cast is great as well. You can never go wrong with Sam Elliott. As Cooper’s older brother/tour manager type, Elliott is the cowboy you expect. He knows how to take care of his brother when he’s on a bender and put him in check when it’s time for the show. He’s always great. Andrew Dice Clay, yeah the Dice Man, plays Gaga’s dad who’s a driver and hangs with other drivers and could have been a crooner according to a Rat Packer. I can’t believe I’m going to say this, but Dice Clay handles the role effortlessly. Dave Chappelle who I haven’t seen in like a decade plays an old friend of Cooper’s and Chappelle himself is good.
What I also liked about the movie is the direction and camera movement. Not only is he the leading man, but Cooper makes his directorial debut with the film. The scenes on stage feel like you are on stage or at least watching a documentary about the band or live show. The camera flows around the stage showing Cooper playing guitar, other band members, Gaga and the crowd. Plus there are some great wide shots on the road that captures road life perfectly. Watching the concert scenes made me miss performing and being part of a production. I wouldn’t be surprised if Cooper gets a Best Director nomination for his debut.
I do wish A Star Is Born was shorter. Knowing the previous versions I had an idea of where the story was going and when you watch the movie you can tell where it’s heading. But I still very much enjoyed the movie especially the performances. Cooper throws his name into the ring of actors turned directors and Lady Gaga will be handed more acting roles to come. It will be in my top 10 films of 2018.
Cast & Crew:
- Bradley Cooper
- Lady Gaga
- Andrew Dice Clay
- Dave Chappelle
- Sam Elliott
- Directed & written by Bradley Cooper