When Country Singer Jackson Maine (Bradley Cooper) meets Ally (Lady Gaga), a talented singer performing in a bar, he is instantly captivated. A romance between the two quickly grows and Jackson encourages Ally to sing with him at gigs. But as her star rises, his begins to fade and as it does, his struggles with addiction only worsen.
Bradley Cooper's directorial debut is nothing short of a triumph. The word "masterpiece" gets thrown around a lot these days, But A Star Is Born truly fits that bill. This is a love story. But more than that, it's a beautifully candid and respectful look at addiction, and how it affects those relationships we hold most dear. Cooper never shy's away from the ugliness of the disease, which makes for a very moving and authentic viewing experience. But it's thanks to some outstanding performances by the two leads that addiction's destructive effect is really felt.
Cooper and Gaga are perfect together, both on and off stage. Their chemistry is electric and their singing is phenomenal! The two stars apparently coached each other on the acting and singing, the result of which are some incredible live performances and a very genuine connection between the two of them. It's a bond that seems strong enough to withstand anything. But as we move into the second half of the movie, we see how their relationship is continually tested by the choices they make. Watch out for some excellent supporting performances from Sam Elliott - the moustachiest moustache that ever did moustache - as well as Dave Chappelle and Andrew Dice Clay.
And lets not forget the music. A Star Is Born features one of the best soundtracks I've heard in years. It's a fantastic mix of country, light rock and pop music. Cooper sought help from Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real to develop the music, they also appear as Jackson's band in the movie. All of the performances were recorded live, and at some of the world's biggest music festivals, including Glastonbury - apparently Lady Gaga hates poorly dubbed singing in movies. This makes for several very exciting concert scenes, in fact it's almost like being on stage with the band.
If I did have one complaint - and unfortunately I do - it's that A Star Is Born falls victim to an old movie cliché. As with most movies, there has to be an unlikeable character, not necessarily a bad guy but someone you'd definitely like to hit. There is one such character here (you'll know them as soon as you see them), they're a slimy piece of shit and of course they have to be played by an English actor. As soon as they speak, you know they're going to be trouble. Maybe the character would come across the same way if played by an American, but Hollywood continues to purvey this image of us English, and it's getting very old.
As directorial debuts go, this is a great one! In fact, Bradley Cooper is spectacular on all fronts. Will this be the start of a promising music career? Who knows, but I would definitely like to see him back in the director's chair. We know Lady Gaga has an amazing voice which she definitely brings to the production, but she also applies that incredible talent to her acting performance. Together these two look like the genuine article which only adds weight to the emotional rollercoaster their characters (and the audience) are put through. A Star Is Born is a touching story of love, life and the highs and lows of showbiz...not to mention, some great music.
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