Every generation ‘stars are born’ or in the words of Jackson Maine ‘Talent Is Everywhere’, he would be correct. Last October, Bradley Cooper had a lot to say when he made his directorial feature debut, A Star Is Born, when it was released in the cinema, now you can own it.
When the film was released cinematically , the critics heaped praise on it, as did the cinephiles. The praise was extraordinary with some calling for the Oscar nominations to be closed as it will sweep the boards. That was before The Favourite, Roma and Bohemian Rhapsody were released. Now we’re in the heart of the awards season the battle is on no matter what happens you can now smile and cry in the comfort of your own home.
Bradley Cooper’s A Star Is Born is the fourth generation, not a remake of the 1976 Barbara Streisland and Kris Kristofferson version. Its a third remake of of the 1937 film which starred Frederic March and Janet Gaynor, not an wannabe popstar but a woman who wanted to be a big time Hollywood actress. It was the first remake, the 1954 version before music took over from acting, it was an era when every second film was a musical.
Whatever version Cooper was inspired by, this was not the easiest film to choose as your directorial debut feature. No easy feat to convince the money people at Warner Bros. Pictures they should fund another version of an established film. He had to fight tooth and nail to get his version onto the big screen, now the studio reaping that award with hope of a few golden statues too!
What’s this version all about?
Jackson Maine (Cooper) is an Alt-Country Rock Star, we meet him wowing his legions of adoring fans with his electrifying guitar riffs at a concert. Leaving them mesmerised, he leaves the gig in the back of the car for one of his vices…alcohol.
Not even the bottle of booze in his car can suffice his addiction he instructs his driver to find him a local watering hole. Despite his drivers protestations he reluctantly finds him a bar , a gay bar , but Jackson doesn’t care. When he enters a Drag show is in progress, just in time for the star attraction, Ally (Lady Gaga). She delivers the powerful ballad ‘La Vie En Rose‘ , hypnotising not just the audience but Jackson himself. Making her performance feel very personal as if she was opening her heart just for you.
Wasting no time Jackson request to meet her and thanks to her best friend Ramon (Anthony Ramos), he makes things happen. It’s blatantly obvious Jackson has fallen in lover with her, but he sees she possess talent too.
Ally can’t believe someone of Jackson Maine’s stature is showing so much interest in her, offering her a chance to sing at one of his gigs. After much persuasion she agrees and when you think nerves would overpower her she lets rip. Amazing the audience with her talents and her first steps on her amazing journey to stardom and success.
The pair journey around the world, their love blossoms and Ally gets another chance , to go on her own. Her career takes its own direction, Jackson’s the other way, but the opposite direction to Ally’s. Jack (as she calls him) does his best to support her, those demons that have plagued him make a comeback. Now affecting Ally.
It really depends on how you approach the film on how much you’ll enjoy A Star Is Born. letting yourself go and embrace whats on offer and enjoy everything. The story of star crossed lovers , old .fashioned love story supporting each through thick and think The other way is enjoy everything, but realise Cooper manipulating not just you but Ally as well, emotional blackmail especially in the final act.
One could argue the film is an cautionary tale , highlighting the the rise and pitfalls of the music industry. The ups and downs of the daily grind of touring , been surrounded by people deciding what you wear, where you go, who you meet,even what your sound will play. The talents that got you there in the first place get lost in the chaos and Ally doesn’t feel disillusioned one bit.
In the background Jackson is extremely proud of Ally and how she’s transforming. Quickly the happiness becomes jealously becoming self reflection of his own career. Jack is on that Rock ‘N’ Roll Suicide David Bowie sung about, metamorphose into ‘Cracked Actor’. A washed up has been addict, the drugs, booze his ticket to a downward spiral.
Ally rise up the ladder to fame and independence really quickly unsettling Jackson. The direction into a pop star from an rock star terrifies him. Shes turning into Lady Gaga, he starts to feel blinded by her neon lights pushing him back to his dark times. Ally slowly sees his other side loosing patience when it affects her publicly.
Cooper and Gaga’s chemistry is on fire. Sparks fly and you genuinely believe the pair are lovers. Ally a working class girl dreaming of big things knocked back several times (her nose one of the reasons , a Easter Egg (Barbara Streisand’s Esther). Jackson is that big break she needed, injecting the confidence she lacked. Lady Gaga only other acting role was on TV with American Horror Story, A Star Is Born shows behind the outrageous costumes she has the ability to act at a higher level too.
Whilst many accolades have come Cooper’s way for his debut direction, we can’t ignore his role as Jackson. A jaded wash out musician battling his own demons, with Ally rekindling his fire in his craft. We can’t ignore Sam Elliott as Jackson’s older brother Bobby, his manager, basically his father. He may not be on the screen long but his impact on the story is pivotal.
A Star is born is an impressive debut for Bradley Cooper and he perfectly intertwines a romance story that feels genuine, honest with an electrifying score, that gels the narrative. The music feels as if its a character its self.
A flawed film that looses its momentum in the second half of the film when things get very dark. The music is the arrow to your heart, and with songs like ‘Shallow’ full of raw emotion you will smile and cry time after time.
Drama, Music | USA, 2018 | 15 | 11th February 2019(UK) | Warner Bros Pictures | Dir.Bradley Cooper | Bradley Cooper, Lady Gaga, Sam Elliott, Dave Chappelle, Andrew Dice Clay, Anthony Ramos