HOLLYWOOD—It takes a lot to move me as a moviegoer, but the drama “A Star is Born” was able to do that. This third remake, yes, this is the third time this classic has been remade, but this time with Bradley Cooper writing, directing, producing and starring in the film alongside pop sensation “Lady Gaga.” Let me be crystal clear: this is NOT a musical. If you are walking into the theater expecting a sing and dance number you will be disappointed. This is a drama, a hardcore one at that, which just happens to have singing in it.
First off, the chemistry between Gaga and Cooper is electrifying. It is palpable and it works with absolute perfection America. To be honest I could not see a better pairing for this flick. I know at once Beyoncé was considered for the starring role with Clint Eastwood expected to take on directing duties. The development hell of this flick works in its favor because our leads work on multiple levels its scary, however, Cooper has a gem of gold here.
I will note that I am aware of the countless remakes and I recently saw the 1953 version starring Judy Garland and James Garner. When it comes to pure originality the flick loses a few points because I saw splitting images from that 50s version appear in this 2018 version only with different faces and advanced technology. The story similar to its predecessors revolves around an alcoholic singer, this time Jackson Maine (Cooper) who is spiraling out of control, but is able to keep his alcoholism hidden to a degree.
During a chance meeting at a bar, Jackson meets Ally (Lady Gaga) and the two develop a working relationship that soon turns romantic. Many are praising Gaga and Cooper, but another performance not getting as much shine as it should is Sam Elliott, who portrays Bobby, Jackson’s brother and manager. Jackson and Bobby have a contentious relationship, as the primary person aware of Jackson’s drinking problem, Bobby has seen the worst of the worst, and the tension between brothers slowly boils in the movie.
What works so well for “A Star is Born” is this is a movie not driven by music, but the performances by its lead characters. Cooper is stellar in the role; this is some of his best work since “American Sniper.” Gaga explodes on the screen, virtually makeup free portraying a character that allows her to shed all of the glitz, glamour and over-the-top antics the public sphere has come to expect from the singer. This is not a movie just about fame, but about the trials and tribulations of drugs, addiction and love.
Jackson Maine is revelation as a character, and Cooper takes this character to some very dark places and it’s riveting to watch on the big screen. This is drama at its best, some might argue it’s a bit much, but that’s only because it’s putting a major spotlight on alcoholism and drug addiction, and how the people surrounding our core character deal and navigate their lives and emotions when they see someone they love withering away. Bring the tissues because this is a movie that will cause you to shed a few tears and stick with you far beyond you leaving the theater. “A Star is Born” is a must see!