A Star Is Born (ASIB) builds on the recent rebirth of the movie musical and blows its contemporary competition out of the water.
The film harkens back to the golden age of the genre. However, it’s still thoroughly modernised and far more grounded than the typical musical. Ally (Lady Gaga) was an aspiring singer/songwriter whose life changed dramatically after a famous musician, Jackson Maine (Bradley Cooper), noticed her talent. Jack and Ally’s relationship grew alongside Ally’s musical career. However, Jack’s alcoholism caused friction between them, as well as their differing views on musical integrity and authenticity.
What truly elevates ASIB compared to its modern rivals is surprisingly simple. They cast people who could actually sing. Movies such as La La Land, and Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again, certainly have their charm, but ultimately lack strong vocalists. It should come as no surprise that Gaga’s vocal abilities are simply stellar. Cooper took a year and a half of vocal lessons, and they were clearly worth every cent.
The soundtrack is the backbone of any musical, and ASIB absolutely nails it. More than that, the songs manage to fit cohesively into the film’s plot, something that a surprising number of modern musicals have failed to do. “Shallow” is without a doubt, the stand-out track, and will, most likely, receive the most attention. Gaga’s vocalisations in the final bridge, can only be described as mesmerising. Even the purposefully generic track, “Why Did You Do That?” is high quality. It’s clear that a great amount of work was put into each and every song, even the ones where it would make sense to do the opposite.
While Gaga does steal the vocal spotlight, Cooper gives one of, if not ,the best performance of his life. It’s been clear for a while now that Cooper is Oscar hungry, and both his acting and directing in ASIB may be an answer to his prayers.
Cooper’s character is not portrayed as the typical alcoholic. He’s not a womanizer nor a domestic abuser. Instead, we see how his illness affects others through his interaction with them. Gaga and Cooper have great chemistry that’s completely believable.
Sam Elliott has a supporting role as Cooper’s brother in the movie. Despite having less screen time, Elliott manages to bring a lot of subtlety and depth to his performance.
ASIB is certainly not without it’s faults, however. The film has a running time of 135 minutes, and there are certain moments where that’s quite clear. In particular, the film begins to drag near the end of the second act. It’s by no means unbearable, but it is undoubtedly, the low point of the film.
Additionally, a lot of the supporting characters introduced in the beginning are of no real importance to the film’s plot. For example, Gaga’s friend (played by Anthony Ramos) doesn’t really do much of anything. After the first act, he only appears one more time to reassure Gaga’s character that she is talented. However, since the audience doesn’t really know the depth of their relationship, it’s hard to feel anything about the scene. The same can be said for Gaga’s drag queen friends.
That said, Cooper’s first interaction with Gaga could have easily been in just a regular bar. Instead, it’s in a drag bar, which makes the scene more memorable, as well as just more fun.
Of course you can’t really talk about ASIB without mentioning that it’s a remake. This is actually the fourth time it’s been made.
Despite this, it still manages to be utterly captivating, and well worth the price of a movie ticket.
Brendan Fernando Kelly Palenque
Image Credit: playlist.com