Oscar season is upon us and having just watched one of the standout movies of 2018, a A Star is Born, up for numerous awards – although, somewhat contentiously not best Director, I decided to dip my toes into the metaphorical water of writing movie reviews.
Sometimes a movie just comes out of nowhere and really resonates, taking you completely by surprise and utterly captivating you for its duration. This was certainly the case with A Star is Born, which is both the directional debut of Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga’s silver screen bow in a starring role.
A Star is Born opens with Bradley Coopers character, Jackson Maine a country music legend who needs no introduction, going through the motions of performing to a sold out crowd before being whisked away to his car, through waves of fans, onwards to the next venue of the tour. What’s apparent very early on is that Jackson, or Jack as he prefers to be referred to, has a major drinking problem. Whilst entirely competent on stage, off it he is never far away from a bottle and this sets things into play for the direction that A Star is Born is heading. The makeup team have to be commended too. Bradley Cooper looks tired, but not just through the passage of time. He looks worn down and old beyond his years. Whilst he has great teeth and piercing blue eyes, there is a sadness in his persona that really encapsulates the essence of somebody who struggles with addiction.
After seemingly running out of hard liquor in his personal vehicle, he requests that his driver – played by Greg Grunberg, pulls over at a nearby bar so he may stop for a drink.
Here he meets the female lead, portrayed absolutely magnificently by Lady Gaga, a waitress who occasionally sings at the bar she used to work in. Gaga’s character Ally imposes herself on Jack’s life from the outset, a case of love at first sight if, not a little cliched for a romantic drama, certainly incredibly powerful for the poignancy at the heart of this multi Oscar nominated film.
Ally’s life changes when she eventually caves to Jack’s incessant badgering and joins him at his upcoming show, watching on from the side of the stage. By the end of the set, Jack has called her out and eventually she joins him to perform a song she wrote and vaguely played for him, which he and his band have created an arrangement for.
A whirlwind romance ensues and inevitably, the right people took notice of Ally’s performance, leading to her own success.
That’s all I’ll say about the story, as, whilst it might be a little predictable, not surprising for a story that has been retold four times since the 1930s, it’s utterly endearing and filled with some truly charming moments.
This is all, in no small part, the result of the fantastic chemistry between Bradley Cooper and Ms. Gaga. They really do compliment each other quite beautifully and each create performances that resonate as a result. Sam Elliot deserves a shoutout too for his performance as essentially Jacks chief roadie is, simply put, powerfully delivered.
With the main themes of A Star is Born being addiction and music, it goes without saying that the music created for the movie is beyond brilliant, so much so that the lead song Shallows must be a hands-on favourite for an Oscar this year. Love her or hate her, and in fairness she’s not my cup of tea, Lady Gaga is just stupidly talented and together with Lukas Nelson (son of country legend Willie) who acted as an advisor, they co-wrote the movies brilliant soundtrack, which was subsequently released by Interscope Records. The last song performed in the movie is one of the most powerful pieces of music I’ve heard in quite some time and when the credits rolled, I immediately checked Tidal and was delighted to find the album available to stream. I listened to it on the drive to work this morning and it holds up as well as a stand-alone piece as opposed to backing for the scenes occurring on your TV set.
Bradley Cooper excels both onscreen and off. With the movie going through development hell – with Clint Eastwood and Beyoncé initially in the frame for Director and female lead respectively. Bradley Cooper also wasn’t the first name considered for the role of Jack either. Everyone from Tom Cruise to Will Smith, were the preferred choices but it seems the hiring of Cooper really helped things to fall into place.
While he may have been overlooked for Best Director, in the opinion of this humble hack, he’s adept in creating emotion and ambience and seemingly able transfer from it the screen to the viewers in spectacular fashion.
A Star is Born delivers standout moment after standout moment all the way through to its incredibly satisfying ending. I didn’t go in expecting too much; I presumed it was just another generic Rom Com – something to appease the misses and possibly win me some good favour in the process, but left having spent two and a half hours with a cast of truly likeable characters, brought to life by a plethora of examples of powerful, heartfelt performances from the stellar cast and the guiding hand of the director.
TBG Score: 8/10
This sublime review of A Star is Born was kindly provided by Kieran the mastermind behind the best new dedicated Nintendo site of 2019. If you enjoyed this why not check out more of his team’s great work over @ www.nintendad.co.uk