A Star Is Born
dir Bradley Cooper
scr Eric Roth, Bradley Cooper, Will Fetters
prd Bradley Cooper, Bill Gerber, Lynette Howell Taylor, Todd Phillips
with Lady Gaga, Bradley Cooper, Andrew Dice Clay, Rafi Gavron, Sam Elliott, Anthony Ramos, Dave Chappelle, Eddie Griffin, Greg Grunberg, Bonnie Somerville, Michael Harney, Shangela Pierce
release US/UK 5.Oct.18
18/US Warners 2h15
A Star Is Born
Far from the shallow now: Cooper and Gaga

clay gavron elliott
R E V I E W    B Y    R I C H    C L I N E
A Star Is Born For this third remake of the iconic story, Bradley Cooper also becomes director and cowriter, updating the 1976 music-industry version complete with the iconic Lady Gaga starring opposite him. The result is involving and powerful, directed and acted with skill to give the film an offhanded, almost improvised feel. At least until the plot's gears start creaking.

Jackson Maine (Cooper) is a famed rocker whose life is disappearing into a gin bottle. One night in a drag bar, he hears the dulcet tones of Ally (Gaga) and invites her to join him in bed and on tour. Ally's dad (Clay) and best pal (Ramos) are thrilled, while Jack's paternalistic older brother Bobby (Elliott) warns Ally to be careful. As videos of her singing go viral, record executive Rez (Gavron) takes her under his wing, transforming her into a pop diva. The question is whether Ally is enough to banish Jack's personal demons.

The story unfolds with an organic pace, mixing earthy humour with understated drama to create unusually grounded characters. The music also emerges authentically from the characters, and both Cooper and Gaga skilfully deliver songs from power rock to weepy ballads. In fact, it feels so loose that the plot points, when they come, are a little jarring, driving the film into a final act that's strongly fatalistic. And it also feels somewhat undercooked, never quite making events believable within the context.

Even so, Cooper and Gaga have strong chemistry and create vividly singular characters. Cooper seems a little too young to be this jaded, although the character's back story certainly provides the grit. And Cooper plays him with a remarkable sense of inner pain. Gaga is a real surprise in a demanding role. She never feels like she's acting, and brings the character right into the songs. Surrounding cast members register strongly in their individual scenes, then fade back into the background.

Cooper proves adept at storytelling, maintaining clear perspectives on the action while letting the real narrative develop in between the lines. These subtextual elements provide plenty of gristle to chew on: the imperfection of love, the pressures of celebrity in the Instagram age, the difficulty of keeping your cool when life explodes around you. It's a cautionary tale about the fragility of stardom, the steady rise and fall of fame, the fact that having something to say is more important than raw talent.

cert 15 themes, language, violence, sexuality 26.Sep.18

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