Bradley Cooper’s directorial debut, “A Star is Born” is a piece of pure magic. Lady Gaga transforms from the platinum art-pop diva we all know and love, into Ally, a shy, understated brunette who’s afraid to sing her own songs. Her performance is exquisite, gritty and real, you soon forget the edgy character she is in real life.
Bradley Cooper’s character, Jackson Maine, has the classic traits of being equally tragic and talented. He is a successful rock musician who is on the way out of the spotlight. He struggles with addiction to both alcohol and pills, making a couple of unsuccessful attempts to kick the habit throughout the film. He meets Ally, a waitress still living at home with her father, at a drag show while she’s performing “La Vie En Rose” by Edith Piaf. She is an incredibly talented singer and performer and he notices her right away. They begin their very powerful, though tumultuous, relationship. He opens her up to the world of performing, inviting her on stage to sing her original work. She lands a record deal and starts to go from a seemingly genuine singer-songwriter to a pop star with lyrics like, “Why do you look so good in those jeans?” As she becomes more successful, Jack becomes disappointed and more catastrophic. Somehow this film has managed to take a classic storyline and twist it around to make it feel completely fresh.
The chemistry between Lady Gaga and Cooper is explosive. You care about their characters immediately, and travel up the extreme highs and horrific lows hand in hand with them. The intimate cinematography and fantastic directing by Cooper puts you on their journey, in the same room, and on the stage with them. You can feel their love and desperation to take care of each other.
The supporting characters deserve a mention as well. Shangela, a drag queen who is best known for competing on and almost winning RuPaul’s Drag Race, plays Lady Gaga’s drag mother. She does a phenomenal job just playing her hilarious self. Dave Chappelle is George “Noodles” Stone, a well adjusted ex-musician and childhood friend of Jack. He delivers words of wisdom with humor and grace. In the entire cast, there was not one weak link.
The music was deeply powerful, and woven into the film seamlessly. The soundtrack is a perfect companion to the storytelling and performances. The pacing is spot-on in the first half but feels a little rushed towards the end. All in all, this film comes together to create something truly timeless. 9.5/10
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