A Star is Born (2018)
In the current state of constant remakes, it’s hard to find one that can inspire new feeling in you. In the hands of talented filmmakers, however, a story can take on a whole new form and power; this seems to be the case for new renaissance man Bradley Cooper.
Bradley Cooper’s directorial debut is the third remake of A Star is Born, the story of which is identical to the previous iterations: a veteran celebrity, here a musician named Jackson Maine (Bradley Cooper) encounters and falls in love with an up and coming singer named Ally (Lady Gaga), and we see as their careers follow opposite directions.
The reason why this particular story has been so successful every time that it has been remade is because it takes a look at the celebrity culture of the time. The 1937 version took a look at the Golden Age of Hollywood, while the 1954 took a look at the rise of musical craze, and the 1974 took a view at the Rockstar culture. In an age when celebrities “let us” into their lives through social media, the novel excitement of peeking at fame wears off. Thus, Cooper makes a decision to keep the camera incredibly close to the characters, so that you can frequently see their skin pores. This, along with clever story structure, helps the viewer feel a certain exclusivity with the characters and the world of fame of today, truly feeling close and without any camera filters.
The film is essentially held together by Cooper’s bold directing and his and Gaga’s performances. There seems to be a clear air of collaboration between both actors, so that we get a remarkable performance from Gaga, which added to her incredible singing, is enough to give you goosebumps. The pop-star proves to be up to the par with Streisand, Gaynor, and Garland who incarnated the character previously. Cooper, meanwhile, takes an unexpected turn donning a gruff Jeff Bridges-like voice and making his struggle with substance abuse seem like a true problem as it becomes indispensable to his character’s personality.
The film starts with an incredible rhythm, and for a rookie director it’s truly astounding that Cooper is able to maintain it as long as he can. However, towards the end the pace starts faltering, and the finale doesn’t deliver the gut-punch it wants to, mainly due to a weaker last song.
Overall, however, the music is inspiring as are the lead performances. Cooper proves to be a true revelation as a director (and a singer, is there anything he can’t do?), and while the film loses steam towards the end, it still retains the magic that its previous iterations held.