Review: Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga sing a heartfelt tune in familiar 'A Star is Born'
Courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures
Bradley Cooper takes on a new role with his latest film “A Star Is Born” - the fourth remake based on the popular source material – because not only does the four time Oscar nominee manifest a terrific performance in front of the camera, he's also undertaken directing duties behind it.
No easy task, but this year has proved that actors can hold their own. We saw John Krasinski slay with “A Quiet Place” and Cooper will most likely add a directing Oscar nomination to his resume very soon.
The obvious question to ask is 'Why go and see A Star Is Born” for the fourth time?' because, essentially, this film steers the same narrative path from previous installments (almost too closely). The answer is easy: her name is Lady Gaga.
Appropriately stepping aside to allow his talented co-star to bolster as the title suggests, Cooper puts Gaga front and center, and it very well could be the breakthrough performance of the year. You'd probably never assume these two powerhouses would connect so perfectly, but you can't picture this remake working without them.
Part of this is because Gaga makes you believe she's Ally, a struggling musician hustling each day to make ends meet. Despite Gaga being one of the most famous artists on the planet, we stay zoned in because she has a compelling presence on screen. It doesn't take long for Cooper to introduce himself as Jackson Maine, a repressed alcoholic and bonafide rockstar who still sells out shows across the country. The two meeting is of pure coincidence – he stumbles into a drag bar looking for a stiff drink and happens to see her perform.
Sparks fly and the film takes literal flight with a beautiful transition that showcases the two touring the country, and unveiling their powerful duet “Shallow” which – no doubt – will take home the Oscar this year for Best Song. It's an emotional ballad that packs just the right amount of tenderness to not seem out of place, and the two sing it with heart and soul.
That first hour is indeed a rush, and Cooper creates some of the most lively concert set pieces of the decade, but he eventually takes the film on a beaten path. Almost like he's trying too hard to replicate the beats from his predecessors, and he doesn't really extend the conversation further on mental illness. Plus, “A Star Is Born” shines brightest when Cooper and Gaga are in the room together, and so the movie ultimately suffers when it breaks away from their relationship late in the second act.
However, Cooper and Gaga rise above most of it (a few of those reserved moments come across more sappy than others – but hey they sound good). As a couple, the two transcend their characters and Cooper establishes himself as a director with hope and promise; making sure we live or die by this relationship. Moreover, it's refreshing to witness a debut filmmaker more interested in telling an effective story, rather than impressing us.