A Star is Born Movie Review
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If you’re like me, you probably haven’t seen the previous versions of A Star is Born (1937, 1954, 1976), but it’s fine because now we have 2018, and it’s quite possibly an amalgamation of the of the perfect parts of all of them.
Ally (Lady Gaga) is an aspiring singer, grabbing gigs where she can just to get her music heard. Jackson Maine (Bradley Cooper) is a fading rock star, destroying himself with booze, drugs and the general excess that comes with never having to hear the word no. One night, while prowling the streets for more booze, he comes across Ally in a drag queen bar and is instantly taken with her voice. An evening together becomes a weekend, which becomes a week, and soon she’s touring with him, performing her original song on stage. As her star rises complete with the dismantling of her own style, his falls – mostly dissolving in pools of alcohol. They remain there for each other, Ally always with a hand out for Jackson to bring him with her. There isn’t the jealous backbiting you’ll see in a lot of other success stories and we don’t see either of them deliberately sabotage the other’s career. It’s a really beautiful and tragic thing to watch. It feels like love.
For a movie that’s 135 minutes long, not a frame is wasted. The music keeps scenes flowing, the dialogue is authentic stuff people actually say, and the natural flow of the drama doesn’t let you check your watch for a second. Sam Elliot plays brother Bobby, stage manager, personal rock, and enabler, Dave Chappelle makes a turn as the voice of reason – take a minute, it’s jarring, and Jackson Maine is backed up by Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real. In his directorial debut, Bradley Cooper blends cinematic drama with live concert energy to bring a story that could easily feel tired, dated and a little sexist to something modern and vibrant We should all be so lucky.
A lot of folks are going to skip A Star is Born because it’s Gaga and they would be making a huge mistake. She holds her own with veterans like Elliot and Cooper and brings her own voice and style to what could easily have been a role lost in a less powerful presence.
You may not expect a musical like the 1954 version with July Garland and James Mason, but the soundtrack is jam-packed with 34 songs and they’re all fantastic. It’s woven around an entirely organic, believable story about loss, love, redemption, sacrifice, and loss. It doesn’t feel forced or trite, and the chemistry between Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga feels real enough. Go see the movie, then buy the soundtrack, and in February, wait for the Oscar nominations. You’re going to see these names up there and they’ve absolutely earned it.
A Star is Born (2018) is rated R for swears, lots and lots of booze, just as many pills, and brief sexy times.