Remakes of classic films are rarely met with high praise, however, the latest version of A Star is Born could well be considered a classic in its own right. It’s hard to fault a film where everything fits so well together with such confidence and emotional depth.
Bradley Cooper plays Jack, a successful rock star who is recognised at every turn. One night after a concert he randomly enters a bar to fuel his alcoholic needs, only to come across Ally (Lady Gaga) singing on stage and is immediately blown away by her talent. Upon meeting her backstage they quickly form a bond that leads to Jack wanting Ally to sing alongside him.
The show-stopping number they sing together, in particular, is one of the film’s many highlights, as we literally witness a star being born. Just when you think Lady Gaga can’t sing any better, she does. It truly is a moment that defines her character as she moves forward into the spotlight, selling it convincingly. As time passes, she begins to outshine Jack and break out into her own persona, leaving him resentful, which only fuels his alcoholism even further.
What we get from here is a stripped back, emotionally charged love story that doesn’t hold back on the reality of what Jack and Ally go through in order to stay together. It’s here that the performances of the two leads really shine through. Bradley Cooper turns in a career-best performance as a man who lives to sing but sinks it down into dead-eyed drunkenness at every chance he gets. It’s a performance that is so deep and layered that it only gets matched and elevated by a raw and brave turn by Lady Gaga, as she goes toe-to-toe with Cooper like she’s been acting for as long as he has. Whilst the coupling may seem weird on paper, it certainly doesn’t show on screen.
The two leads are also supported by a strong cast that includes the great Sam Elliott, who plays Cooper’s much older brother and assistant Bobby. While his screen time is small, he still leaves a big impression.
What’s even more astonishing, is that A Star is Born marks Bradley Cooper’s directorial debut – and what a debut it is. You get the impression he’s been wanting to get behind the camera for a long time now and it shows that he hasn’t wasted the opportunity to do so. Going by this effort, hopefully, it’s something he intends to keep doing in the years to come.
With some big musical numbers that will make you want to go straight home and download the soundtrack, A Star is Born is so much more than a whimsical love story. It’s a film that cares about each and every detail and emotion the characters go through, but without trying too hard to do so. Rarely does a film come along that no matter what the genre or target audience is, will make you sit there and invest every emotion you have until the end credits roll.
Bradley Cooper said that Lady Gaga was the one who convinced him they should sing live. Gaga said she hated watching movies where the actors were not lip-syncing correctly to the songs, and to avoid this and get it right they needed to sing live for the film. This was what caused Cooper to get more extensive vocal training.