Remakes…in most instances they are not worth your time. There are exceptions and the fourth incarnation of A Star is Born is one of those. Admittedly when I heard that Bradley Cooper was going to direct a remake of A Star is Born with Lady Gaga as his star I was underwhelmed. Another reason for me to doubt the legitimacy of the film. Again I was wrong. The film is well worth your investment of the price of the seeing it and the two hours and 15 minutes to watch it. Bradly Cooper shows that he knows how to frame and tell a story and Lady Gaga is a good actress who can carry a film.
Being a big music star, Jackson Maine (Bradley Cooper – Silver Linings Playbook, American Hustle) cannot go anywhere without being recognized. When his desire to drink, as he is obviously an alcoholic, overrides his need to get to the airport to his next show he finds himself at an off the beaten path drag bar. There he meets Ramon (Anthony Ramos – from television’s Will & Grace) and hears Ally (Lady Gaga – from television’s American Horror Story) sing. Jack is taken by her talent and then, after spending the evening with her, by her.
Ally tells him that she does not sing her own songs because she has been told over and over again by people in the music industry that she is not pretty enough or her nose is too big. She has given up. That is until Jack demonstrates he believes in her and nudges her onto stage (literally) allowing music fans to discover the magnitude of her talent. While Ally’s star is growing, Jack’s is fading. Quickly. His drinking and drug use is destroying his career and his life. Even after the two get married, Jack’s demons never really leave him and threaten to end his career, marriage and even his life.
The film tells plenty of interesting stories. A Star is Born is in its essence a love story. A love story between Ally and Jack. An interesting look at a twist on the usual gender norms – the ascension of a woman while simultaneously a man is falling. A look at addiction. Addiction within a romantic relationship. Investigates being a musician and what that means. What artistic integrity means. Does today’s viral nature and building up of our musicians today allow them to remain creative? The fact that being famous involves both power and vulnerability. Several allusions are made about artists only being legit when they have “something to say”. The same can be said about films. Whether it is a love story or a Marvel action film, a movie’s raison d’etre is saying something. This film has plenty to say.
We knew she could sing, really well, but I for one, did not know the extent of her talent as an actress. Lady Gaga is really good. Able to convey the multitude of emotions her character Ally has to go through in the telling of this story, but also be someone who is able to “act” with others. Not to outshine those she is onscreen with. A tougher ask than for most other actors/actresses as she has such a large already established persona because of her music career. I am sure she will earn a fully merited Academy Award Best Actress nomination when they are announced. And maybe even a win. Who would have thought that before this film?
Not surprisingly, based upon the previous versions of this film and the fact that Lady Gaga is in it, music plays a big part in A Star is Born. Written by Lady Gaga, Mark Ronson and others, the music is at times moving while others gets your blood pumping. An integral part of the storytelling, the music tells part of the tale. It lets you know how Jack or Ally are connecting at any particular time or what they are feeling.
Solid debut behind the camera by Bradley Cooper. He has made a film which entertains you with its dynamism. Cinematography, direction, story, acting, and music all come together to draw you in. You will not feel the over two hours because you are instanteously invested in what is happening on the screen. Passion and energy en masse.