By Adam Ray Palmer
Well, here we are with the third reboot of A Star is Born, and this time it’s Bradley Cooper who fancied the challenge of delivering it.
Talks started back in 2011 for this version, and finally in 2016 it was green lit with Lady Gaga signing on alongside Cooper.
A Star is Born centres on two passionate musicians. One being Jackson Maine (Cooper) who is a rock n roll/country star and the other being rookie club singer Ally (lady Gaga). Maine decides to help the young singer and actress find fame, even though age and alcoholism send his own career into a downward spiral.
We first meet the pair doing what they love doing, but on a completely different scale. Jackson, an aging and drink-addled country legend, downs a whiskey drink and finishes a set to thousands before heading into the city to find a bar. This is where we run into Ally, a plucky and talented individual with a ‘too larger nose to become successful’ – or so she thinks.
Ally bellows out ‘La Vie en Rose’ for the first time to wow club-goers, Jackson and definitely us in the theatre audience too. From here on in, Ally and Jackson’s love story commences, builds and slowly hits the skids as her career overshadows his inevitable demise due to drugs and alcohol.
As a directorial debut for Cooper, this is some impressive effort. He has sought inspiration from musicals of the 60s and 70s, but also 2016’s La La Land for the subtle and melodic tracking camera work. From the outset, like La La Land, we see both Ally and Jackson’s struggles in life as their careers are not always as they seem. Ally cannot catch a break in the music industry, and ironically, Jackson cannot catch a much-needed break from the industry either.
Cooper's endeavour to capture emotion through the lens is successful, if a bit too sugary at times. The first 90 minutes is really harmonious, think Rock of Ages (yes, that infectious), and then what follows in the last 45 minutes is a lot darker. Whilst on one hand it’s a welcomed shift in the journey, on the other, it hits you like a ton of bricks out of nowhere and perhaps delivered too quickly.
Musical film has seemed to have a resurgence in the last few years. I am a huge fan of Chazelle’s 2016 masterpiece and also Sing Street, whilst last year we enjoyed The Greatest Showman. The latter movie dominated the box office and the soundtrack boomed too. I think if The Greatest Showman can have that much success, I'm pretty sure A Star is Born will blow that out of the water.
Cooper has delivered a film that will be a massive success, commercially and critically. Whilst I don’t think it is in the La La Land league of musical genius, it will certainly be getting Oscar nominations. Cooper and the 'Best Song' category at least beckons, with Gaga and a ‘Best Picture’ nod in the midst too.
On the whole, I’m just so surprised by this movie. I didn’t give it enough credit in my judgement. Lady Gaga has a few amazing scenes and deserves a lot of praise for her first leading lady role. In addition, for a first attempt at shot-calling for Cooper, it’s an astonishing piece of work. The pace on the whole is admirable, the camera work is on point, the soundtrack is fantastic and it has that gritty underbelly to the music industry that subtly peaks through.
I doth my cap to Coops and Gaga, this is a sugary musical-film of Haribo proportion – sweet and satisfying.
Cineroom’s Rating: 4.5 stars
A Star is Born is set to be released in the UK on 5th October 2018 – certificate 15