A Star is Born

Film, Drama Now showing
4 out of 5 stars
4 out of 5 stars
(8user reviews)
A Star is Born

Lady Gaga is a full-on revelation in the rebooted fame tragedy, supercharging the material with soulfulness and vulnerability.

Calling the new A Star Is Born a “valentine” from its star, Lady Gaga, to her fans sounds a bit coy and delicate, so let’s call it what it really is: a hot French kiss (with full-on tongue), filled with passion, tears and a staggering amount of chutzpah. Generously emotional and all the more fun for it, the movie functions as something like a Marvel-esque origin story, with Gaga’s own mythology vamping it up at drag cabarets subbing in for her character’s background. It's more than smart to have cast her; it's essential to the movie even working.

But to watch her character, Ally, become a star—especially onstage during the film’s live moments, which feel frightening, massive and deafening—is an incredible piece of evolution. Gaga is really acting here: shy, somehow smaller, trembling with excitement. Slowly, she blooms in the spotlight, proudly waving around that Streisand schnozz, the big voice completing the transformation. She’s extraordinary, and you root for her to go supernova per the scenario’s time-honored trajectory.

Director-co-star Bradley Cooper has something else in mind, though. Just as his own performance—as Jackson Maine, this film’s rocker on the downslide—ends up being one of those grumbly beard chews (if you remember the 1976 version, you might describe it as Kristoffersonian), his steering of the drama is understated: modest and unshowy. He’s trying to make a “real” version of this glitziest of stories (whatever that means), and you love that Cooper seems to have learned more from his unassuming American Sniper director Clint Eastwood than from American Hustle’s hyperactive David O. Russell.

The result is a Star Is Born that injects its interactions with plain-spoken rawness and believability—you see that not only in the skittish romance at its heart, but via concerned looks from Jackson’s father-figure-manager (a terrific Sam Elliott, booming and righteous during his showdowns) or check-ins from Ally’s limo-driving, coulda-been-a-contender dad (Andrew Dice Clay, still on the dramatic upswing post–Blue Jasmine). The movie becomes a sad drug-addiction story, percolating with updated musical tensions between Jackson’s Neil Young-ish canyon lifestyle and Ally’s slick pop reinvention.

On that last point, and it's more than just a quibble: Gaga and Cooper keep things so grounded and real, it’s almost a missed opportunity that Ally always seems recognizably human (hearkening back to Janet Gaynor’s heartbreaker in the 1937 original), instead of becoming the sharp-edged plastic creation we know Gaga is capable of. It’s a slight timidity that robs the movie of some of its central irony: Ally arrives at fame’s door but at what cost? Regardless, more showbizzy actors like Judy Garland couldn’t pull off what Gaga is doing here, so overall, this is a net gain. Is there an “Evergreen,” though—a barnburner of a ballad? Perhaps: A swooping final number, “I’ll Never Love Again,” is the stuff that Oscar telecasts are made of.

Follow Joshua Rothkopf on Twitter: @joshrothkopf

By: Joshua Rothkopf

Posted:

Release details

Release date:
Friday May 18 2018
Duration:
135 mins

Cast and crew

Director:
Bradley Cooper
Screenwriter:
Bradley Cooper, Eric Roth, Will Fetters
Cast:
Bradley Cooper
Lady Gaga
Sam Elliott
Dave Chappelle
Andrew Dice Clay

We've found 54 cinemas showing 'A Star is Born'

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Average User Rating

4 / 5

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LiveReviews|8
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Tastemaker

It’s not often that I review movies, but A star is born surprised me. I loved it despite myself. It’s a Hollywood movie as they used to be. Not a VFX laden blockbuster, not an artsy auteur film only selected few will understand. It’s a movie for everyone, telling a good story well with just enough Hollywood glamour to elevate us from the drab reality.

It’s not the best movie I’ve ever seen, nor is it the best movie of the year, as many other overly enthusiastic reviewers claim. There are script issues, and it’s a tad too long at over 2 hours. But then there are also achievements, and those achievements make it a must see movie if you ask me.

A star is born may be the best cast movie I’ve seen this year. Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga are the definition of what onscreen chemistry is. And here we also have an actor who can really sing and a singer who can actually act. As everyone is raving about Gaga’s performance, let me rave instead about Bradley Cooper. He is strong and vulnerable, confident and broken all at once and is enough to make me fall in love with country music. He is perfect for the role. 

And it’s a solid directorial debut too. I dare say not since Clint Eastwood has an actor stepped into directing so effortlessly. No wonder Bradley Cooper mentions him as an inspiration on numerous occasions. Although the second half of the movie feels a bit too long and perhaps slightly confused, the first 30 minutes are remarkable. Thanks to his directing and close framing Bradley Cooper makes you physically feel how the two main characters fall in love, how unavoidable it is that they fall in love. Absolutely brilliant. This is a movie that has been remade so many times, yet Bradley still manages to make it his own. I think a star has been born in more than one sense!

tastemaker

Lady GaGa and Bradley Cooper fans rejoice! This pairing is a match made in cine heaven. Cooper stuns as a gravelly voiced rock star with a barely distinguishable Southern drawl, complete with long hair, while in contrast Lady GaGa is stripped back to just her vocals and cool style for this modern take on tragic rom com. It includes more musical scenes than I anticipated but pulls it off without being cheesy or billed as a ‘musical’ and the soundtrack has stayed in my head for days. A great movie that will leave you with tears in your eyes but in a good way. I feel like I’ll be watching this on repeat just like A Greatest Showman...worth the hype!


Stylishly done but did the world really need another version of this well-worn tale? And at 2 hours and 15 minutes the tale felt even more well-worn by the end. The emotion and the passion are there - but there is something out of key about the feel of the movie that doesn't quite work. Enjoyable but all rather soul-less.


Lady GaGa quite simply is a revelation. She’s almost unrecognisable as Ally & gives her a raw, natural & loveable presence. I don’t think her voice has ever sounded better & several times I was sat there thinking “wow”! Her relationship with Jackson has palpable chemistry & is at times goofy/charming & at others controlling & hurtful. Bradley Cooper has done a sterling job as leading man & director. His Jackson is grizzled, authentic & ultimately tragic. The music is great. I felt pretty emotional after this film & that melancholy lasted long after the closing credits rolled...

Tastemaker

​This is one beautiful, moving and ultimately highly depressing film. Having loved the Judy Garland-James Mason version, I was curious to see how director & lead actor Bradley Cooper would handle this, the fourth remake of an ageless story where failing star meets ingenue and paths cross & tangle before ultimately parting forevermore. 


As the man both behind and in front of the camera, Cooper does an excellent job. As a director he's hugely generous not only to Lady Gaga but to a tight supporting cast including the always brilliant Sam Elliott, a hugely likeable Anthony Ramos and a remarkably understated Dave Chappelle. His Jackson Maine might well be in 95% of the scenes but he never seems greedy for screen time, instead listening & responding beautifully and thoughtfully to his cast mates. His is a sad story but at times he is also infuriating, embarrassing & nauseating so while he may look every inch the movie star-rock star, all weathered face and sweat streaked cowboy hat, he is by no means perfect. 


As the Janet Gaynor-Judy Garland-Barbra Streisand successor, Lady Gaga is dazzling. You simply cannot take your eyes off her and when she first takes to the stage, I was moved to both goosebumps and tears. It felt like I was watching the story of her life unfolding before my eyes and it was the purest of raw talents belting off the screen and putting everyone else in the shade. She has a curiously luminous face that you can't help but stare at in the sort of way that would probably get you into trouble in real life but which is thankfully permissible in the dark of an auditorium. Her talents as a song-writer are also apparent with a soundtrack that you'll be downloading on the bus home and singing along to in the shower tomorrow morning.


The movie starts with a knockout musical performance from Cooper who more than proves his musical chops but at well over 2 hours long, there are times in the second half where it felt a tad long and when the credits were in sight, I was reminded that this is actually a fairly bleak film with a poignant but heavy ending. As one of several writers, Cooper does a wholly credible job delivering a script that boasts several especially memorable scenes including a Grammy's scene that provoked gasps from my fellow audience members, a bathtub scene that was truly painful to watch and a Saturday Night Live pastiche that was spot on with its sarcastic poking at society today and he clearly shows that he's learned from the directors he's worked with so far in his career. Come awards season there's no doubt this will be heavily featured so if you like to play 'who's gonna win' bingo, then you'll want to watch this but to be honest, if you're a fan of either lead star, modern musicals or simply a well crafted film, then this is also for you.

tastemaker

I must admit I’m not a massive Lady Gaga fan (sorry!), but I love Bradley Cooper (who doesn’t) and will see any and everything he’s in, so not knowing much about A Star is Born- I haven’t seen the original- I went with a friend to see it and was blown away!

Both Gaga and Cooper give outstanding, raw and heartfelt performances. It’s refreshing to see Gaga just looking natural- she’s hardly recognisable as the showy, OTT star that she is on the red carpet. Apparently Cooper, who directed the film brilliantly, insisted she wore minimal makeup which really makes her stand out in a different and surprising way.

This is my film of the year and I’m already planning to see it again! I can’t recommend it enough.


Probably unnecessary remake of umpteen remakes, this version still manages to add some extra detail to the by now musty story of a star on his way down as his missus goes all stratospheric. 


Apart from some rather egregious, disgusting self-promotion of the cult of Lady Gaga, this is a very moving and affecting film. For more: http://bit.ly/starborn2018 

tastemaker

Did we really need a remake ? Having seen the new version I have to say no. It is slow, painful, with abysmal dialogue, & has far too much Bradley Cooper for my liking (Cooper has directed the film and he has shifted the focus of the film from the rising " star" to himself, it's all a bit nauseating). The only plus is Lady Gaga who does lift the film, whenever Cooper gives her a look in. I would have been much happier if Bradley had followed the example of James Mason in the 1954 version & exited the film very much earlier.