‘All any artist can offer the world is how they see those twelve notes. That’s it…’
I have been writing film reviews for around five years now (I’m sorry everyone). I’ve watched and reviewed literally hundreds of films. Mostly badly and without any kind of unique insight. I will say that I have a fairly solid film knowledge though. Stronger than the average person on the street if you will. It seems surprising then that I had never heard of A Star is Born until it came out in its latest incarnation last year. This is a film that has been remade on four separate occasions, each time to critical acclaim and Academy recognition. Every generation has its A Star is Born apparently. A bit like Batman then…
The 2018 incarnation of A Star is Born made headlines upon release, firstly because it was the directorial debut of Bradley Cooper – a man who is now surely the biggest actor on the planet if he wasn’t already – and, secondly, because it marked the first meaningful film to star Lady Gaga or Stefani Germanotta to use her grown up name. Basically, this had all the ingredients to be a massive flop. The fact that it isn’t is a testament to all involved but particularly to Cooper and Germanotta.
Jack (Cooper) is a world famous musician haunted by his past and struggling with alcoholism and just, like, having to deal with being really handsome and talented and rich and stuff. Ally (Germanotta) is all of the above but without yet being rich or famous. When Jack plucks Ally from obscurity, thus begins a whirlwind romance with gargantuan consequences for everyone involved, as well as the music industry that wrought them.
A Star is Born works because of the achingly authentic chemistry between Cooper and Germanotta which sees Cooper deliver a career best performance and Lady frickin’ Gaga announce herself as one of the most exciting acting talents in Hollywood right now. The supporting cast are mostly excellent as well with Andrew Dice Clay understated and effective as Ally’s loving but controlling father and Sam Elliot all heart and moustache under his stony faced exterior. Rafi Gavron struggles as Ally’s British, and therefore villainous, manager Rez but this is mainly a cast at the top of their game.
Even the soundtrack, absolutely not my thing normally in a musical, is actually pretty damn good and the decision to have Cooper and Gaga perform the songs live rather than miming to a backing track pays off in spades.
While I enjoyed Green Book, Cooper and his cast can feel aggrieved to have only taken home a single Oscar for A Star is Born. If, like me, you weren’t sure about a remake of a musical you had never heard of, cast those prejudices aside as I did. You won’t be disappointed.