Skip to main content
Loading...

A Star Is Born Movie Review

Plucky "Star"

It's a classic tale of passion and art: he's a superstar who meets a young hopeful, falls in love with her, and urges her to chase her dreams, only to see her fame eclipse his as he struggles to navigate his downward spiral without losing her love. If the plot of "A Star Is Born" sounds familiar, it should - Hollywood loves this story, as evidenced by the three other versions (the 1937 original, a Judy Garland musical, and a glitzy mid-70s take with Barbara Streisand and Kris Kristofferson) that precede this new release starring Bradley Cooper ("Guardians of the Galaxy 2") and Lady Gaga (American Horror Story: Hotel) as the star-crossed singers. Because it's a high-profile remake as well as Mr. Cooper's directorial debut, "A Star Is Born" received a ton of pre-release hype. So, does it live up to these vaunted expectations? Yes...mostly.

There's a lot to like in "A Star Is Born," beginning with beguiling lead performances from Mr. Cooper and Ms. Gaga. On paper they are an odd match, but onscreen the pair exhibit a chemistry that's both soaring and believable. The script calls for something of a whirlwind romance as the two meet at a drag bar - he's Jackson Maine, a famous musician who also happens to be a staggering drunk, and she's Ally, an aspiring singer who gets occasional stage time by gamely decking herself out as a drag queen - but the film grounds their instant connection in a shared passion for music, and it works.

That passion, explored consistently throughout the film, is certainly a strong point. Sparks virtually fly off the screen when Jack hears Ally belt out a knockout version of "La Vie En Rose" that first night in the bar. Later, when she haltingly sings a few lines from a tune she's been writing, he gazes at her like a lost wanderer who's finally found a member of his tribe. "A Star Is Born" is, initially at least, a fairy tale, so the smitten prince sweeps the lady off her feet and whisks her away to one of his concerts, where he tries to lure her onstage to sing a spiffed-up version of her new song. Ms. Gaga nails the moment, as we see Ally struggle but finally swallow her self-doubt and make her way into the spotlight. The resulting duet is a shiver-inducing moment of pure magic, and these two characters continue to be at their best when they can put aside the increasingly distracting - and in some cases, destructive - details of their lives and reconnect over the way that both need music the way they need air.

But there are many, many complications, from Jackson's alcoholism and deteriorating hearing - virtual death to a musician - and stressful squabbles with his older brother and tour manager Bobby (Sam Elliott, "The Hero") to the increasing demands of Ally's career and the unhelpful meddling of her new manager (Rafi Gavron), who's no fan of Jack. If you know anything about this story, you know that it's headed into rough territory. There will be tears.

Mr. Cooper directs with a sure hand that belies his neophyte status behind the lens but effectively incorporates his many years of experience in front of the camera. In short, he's an actor's director, and he's drawn startlingly deep and natural performances from his cast, many of whom have distinguished themselves elsewhere in fields that by contrast rely more on bravura and artifice. Of course there's Ms. Gaga, whose baroque, intricately choreographed stage presentations and showy performance on American Horror Story provided no hint that she was capable of the modulation, candor, and vulnerability she brings to the role of Ally. For a performer who is almost always seen in wild costumes and layers of theatrical makeup to appear onscreen barefaced, as Ms. Gaga does for much of the first half of the film, is an affecting act of trust, and it pays off beautifully. This is a performance that could take her career in a completely new direction.

Mr. Cooper also coaxes notably warm and down-to-earth performances from often-abrasive comic Andrew Dice Clay as Ally's protective father, and sharp but skittish comedian Dave Chappelle as Jackson's friend and fellow musician. And "A Star Is Born" is a high-water mark for the Oscar-nominated actor himself; his Jackson Maine is a believable portrait of a man whose passions are constantly at war with his inner demons, and whose charm and narcissism are two sides of the same coin. There's always a fear that addiction stories will be overplayed but Mr. Cooper hits all the right notes here. It's easy to empathize with this seemingly-laid-back charmer who's so at home onstage, basking in the adulation of his roaring fans, but as the layers peel away to expose conflicts and insecurities just beneath the surface, it's agonizing to watch his struggles. That Mr. Cooper turns in such a finely-tuned performance while also shouldering directing and producing duties is a significant accomplishment.

There are some drawbacks here, including the lengthy runtime (135 minutes), which leads to a bit of trudging as the film makes its turn into the third act. And, while characters of Jackson and Ally are fully realized and virtually demand the audience's emotional attention, the story gets a bit soapy in the end. The strong setup points to a cathartic payoff that may not be there for all viewers, particularly those with low tolerance for telegraphed story beats. However, there's only so much one can do to put a new spin on a story that's been told so many times before, so this is a small quibble. In the end, "A Star Is Born" will be judged on the appeal of its love story, the strength of its performances, and the vaulting intensity of its musical numbers. The final verdict? There's no denying that this star was born to shine.



Comments

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
Loading...

Popular posts from this blog

LG G5 Review In-Depth

Can LG take on the Galaxy S7 with a metal design, dual-cameras and an accessory slot? Here's our first LG G5 review, focusing on LG G5 design and build, LG G5 specs, LG G5 cameras and LG G5 software and apps.
Alongside the Galaxy S7, the LG G5 is one of the biggest phones (not literally) to launch in 2016 – and we're not just talking in the Android world. It's one of the heavyweights and LG will be looking to set the market alight with the G5's alternative and innovative modular design.

2019 BMW i8 Review

The 2019 BMW i8 is a head-turner for its looks, which hides its plug-in powertrain. That’s good or bad, depending on your priorities.Even among six-figure cars with two doors, the 2019 BMW i8 steals stares. That could be because of the dramatic wing doors and futuristic shape, its laser headlights at night, or the 2019 i8’s silent propulsion for up to 18 miles.
Or it may steal attention because, even after more than four years on sale, it’s a very rare sight.

Apple iPhone XR Review

If you aren't sure you are ready to leave the Home button behind and embrace Face ID, think again. We'll tell you why the iPhone XR is worth the sacrifice - especially because it's just as good (if not better than) the iPhone XS. Find out more in out full review.
Should I Buy The Apple iPhone XR?
The iPhone XR brings Face ID to the masses. We’re sure people will continue to rebel against the lack of Home button, but eventually we expect them to come round and embrace the larger screen, Portrait mode (front and back), animoji and memoji.We have no doubt that this will be a popular iPhone and it deserves to be. The only question is why would anyone buy an iPhone XS when the iPhone XR is just as powerful and has a bigger screen.

Google Pixel Review

Not everyone wants a phone with a big screen, but most small-screen phones compromise on performance and cameras. Not so with Google’s latest flagship Android phone: Here’s our Google Pixel review.
Joining the ranks of the Pixel C and Chromebook Pixel are Google’s new Pixel phones. We’re reviewing the smaller 5in Pixel here, but you can read our separate Pixel XL review if you’re after a bigger phone.

BlackBerry KEYone Review

BlackBerry soliders on with a curious Android device that gets nearly everything right. It’s not for everyone though, in fact, it’s not really for anyone. But if you want a physical keyboard you will absolutely love it.
Should I Buy The BlackBerry KEYone?
But then, the KEYone is the best BlackBerry phone for years. It has (finally) successfully melded classic BlackBerry design with the necessary mix of Android and nostalgia. Importantly, the latter is only faint this time – this is a device for 2017, not 2007.If you love your iPhone or Samsung, you’ll hate the KEYone and won’t even consider buying it. But if you’ve made it to the end of this review, chances are you’re weighing up a buy. If you think you’ll love the BlackBerry KEYone, then I’m pretty certain you won’t be disappointed. You’re part of a minority, but finally BlackBerry has a phone for you that doesn’t force you to compromise.

Like Fan Page