The story of A Star Is Born had already been remade twice, marking the Bradley Cooper adaptation the third time this film’s story has been told, with each remake having a singing talent attached to it (Judy Garland in 1954 and Barbara Streisand in 1976). With this adaptation, we get to see the supposed breakout performance of Lady Gaga alongside the equally talented Bradley Cooper. The first time I heard of this film was when the internet was buzzing about this film being the best film of the year, which was impressive as it was to be released alongside the Marvel blockbuster Venom. After seeing it for myself I can assuredly say that A Star is Born not only lives up to the buzz but surpasses it, by a long way.
I’m still getting over how great it is to see a film that was in development hell for a very long time, become the film that it is today, through Bradley Cooper’s direction, you can clearly see the sincerity of wanting to make something special. That sincerity carries on in the writing as we are treated to a story that is seamless and sticks to the whole point of the narrative. I was completely convinced that what I was watching one character’s rise and one character’s fall, having these two journeys and conjoining them in the story felt so effortless and so precise you could plot it on a graph where both characters are at.
One of the key talking points that everyone brings up about this film is the performance of Lady Gaga and well, the title says it all. As Ally, an unknown singer-songwriter, she gives a more dramatic performance than anyone could expect which is assisted by the natural chemistry she has with her co-star Bradley Cooper (playing Jackson Maine), especially during scenes when they’re singing together. Their characters romance is touching and natural making they’re coming together all the stronger, these two were made for each other.
The finer details in this film from the foreshadowing to the welcoming colourfulness of scenes are glorious to behold, but not as glorious as how the film times and uses its singing sequences. We are watching one character’s rise and one character’s fall and the amount of time the two characters are thrown into a singing number reflects where the characters are at in terms of career trajectory. The film opens with a few original numbers from Jackson Maine, but when he discovers the talent of Ally, she steps into the spotlight so often we never hear Jackson sing until the film’s conclusion. Having the time, the characters spend on singing is masterful narrative construction, it’s a subtle reminder for how high or low the characters are feeling.
The music itself is very well written and scored that sends us through many waves of emotion. Many critics are telling you that A Star Is Born is going to receive many Oscar nods. Although we critics don’t have a crystal ball, I would be very surprised if this film didn’t at least get a best original soundtrack nominee because frankly it more than deserves it with the number of songs written and performed by Gaga herself. What’s more is that there is no ADR or re-recording at play here, everything is done live and in the moment of the scene which is commendable, to say the least. Not many films have the courage to capture live singing but having that kind of realism in the scene draws our attention to it, helping us to be moved by the music even more.
I do have a policy on this review site that I must at least point out at least one flaw in any film, even if it hurts to do so, but the only seemingly small nit-pick I have with A Star Is Born is that the dialogue, at times, can become a little too conversational. You’ll often have to go with the scene to reach that big emotional acting from either Gaga or Cooper, which can be irritating for audiences who like quick, snappy scenes that get straight to the point. This isn’t to say that the tone and pacing aren’t affected by the dialogue, they managed to keep things steady.
The one thing that propels this film above all others like it is how much confidence is shown in the filmmaking. The confidence in its talent, the confidence to do live performances, the confidence in the story. It’s these things that have turned this film into what it is, and the confidence never stops growing with every scene. Clearly, by the reactions of everyone on the internet, people have noticed this. If there wasn’t a big word of mouth spread about this film, I doubt that A Star Is Born would be receiving the same attention, but I’m beyond glad that it did.
Final Result: 10/10 – Masterpiece
Have you seen A Star Is Born? What did you think? Please let me know your thoughts and opinions in the comments below.
Next Time: First Man