Hollywood at it again with another remake, but the thing is, originality does not mean anything when it comes to quality. Bradley Cooper does it all in his first directed movie. The man acts, sings while playing guitar, and directs on top of everything. Just when I thought he is one of the most talented people on the planet, he gets even better. Plus he has Lady Gaga, if you have not stopped reading to watch this movie then what are you doing? Get to the theater and watch this award-worthy film.
Jackson Maine (Bradley Cooper) is on top of the music world as a huge star. A star with addictions, unsettled mental health problems, and of course, hearing issues. He meets a talented young woman, Ally (Lada Gaga) and he believes in her right when he hears that voice. Yeah, it is that type of movie, so you think. They fall into a relationship, and we see their dynamic as the two grow as a couple and as musicians. A bleak look at the music industry and what it can do to two young lovers.
If you want to be a musician then maybe watch this movie and reconsider your choices. Cooper and Eric Roth have written an austere perspective into the musician lifestyle, along with some of the positives that come with this career path. Not just that, but a believable and well-developed relationship between Ally and Jack is on display. I can’t remember seeing a love story told so well, at least it has been quite a few years to see something so realistically depicted.
Cooper and Gaga are phenomenal, of course. They have this fantastic chemistry that makes you feel every moment they are together. When the two lovebirds are singing, I could not stop myself from smiling. When the tone gets grim, my heart is pounding, and my eyes start to water. I truly cared for these characters, and I want the best for them so much. Cooper delivers his best performance to date, which says a lot because the man has done plenty of brilliant work in the past. He has this charm that grabs the audience with that smile and deep voice. He manages to have that inner pain to his character show at all times. When the sky is blue, and the birds are chirping, you still see the pain in his eyes. In a world full of excellent TV shows that showcase how well developed and three-dimensional characters have become puts movies to shame. Cooper proves that you can still bring characters to life in just two hours. Gaga has always been a great artist, but I have never seen her given the spotlight for her acting until now. As a character who stands alone, she is captivating. When she is with Cooper, they are both a force that will not let go of you with their performances.
The rest of the cast are brilliant and bring their own substance to this intoxicating story. Bobby (Sam Elliot) as Jack’s much older brother, yeah they have Sam Elliot playing his brother, his compelling all the way through. They have a history that is complicated and well fleshed out. I felt that tension and love. Lorenzo (Andrew Dice Clay) should have had more in the film, but he was just as complex of a father for Ally. Ramon (Anthony Ramos) plays a good friend of Ally but felt more like a stand-in character. Her manager, Rez (Rafi Gavron), felt a bit generic but is lifted by the solid performance delivered by Rafi.
Sometimes music in these types of movies gets a little too much. They manage to cut into the next scene right when things might drag on too long. Surprisingly, the music is for the most part good. Even when I did not like it, every song has a specific reason. Every detail, in general, is well thought out, especially when you see Ally and Jackson play music. I knew Gaga for her incredible talents in acting and singing, but who would have thought that Cooper is such a good musician? I never knew he could, and he keeps surprising me. First, he pops up in Marvel as Rocket Raccoon and here he is playing as a mainstream musician.
The cinematography captures every mood perfectly. The delivery of the concert scenes shows how much fun and impactful music can be. When the story gets darker, the camera work and lighting show that tone to the audience. Every detail is precise. One of my favorite shots of the year is towards the final act. The use of lighting and zooming in on a house with a red light covering the entrance made for such a gorgeous view while maintaining with the tone of the scene. Nothing gets put onto the screen without a lot of thought put into it.
As we draw closer to Oscar-worthy movie season, A Star Is Born will blow any movie away. Cooper manages to make his directorial debut into a masterpiece that would have anyone thinking some A-Class director who has been making films for decades created this beautifully heartbreaking movie. No, it is the Bradley Cooper we have all known from Guardians of the Galaxy, American Hustle, American Sniper, and The Hangover. The execution of his vision is full of care. While the film is a remake; he has made it his own to stand as an individual film that does not lean on its predecessors. With some slight pacing issues in the first twenty or so minutes, it is smooth sailing that does not feel too slow or too fast. The chemistry between him and Gaga alone is the best aspect of the film, while it still brings so much more than their characters. We get a real love story that is not caked in makeup from typical Hollywood movies. A Star Is Born is something raw, beautiful, and intoxicating. If this film does not win a single Oscar, then it is time to shut the award showdown.
Image via Warner Bros.