Hollywood loves a good drama, which may explain why each generation is treated to their own version of ‘A Star Is Born’. This is a movie that has been remade four times since the original, but it’s arguably this latest version that ranks as the greatest.
Nominated for five Golden Globes and eight Academy Awards, ‘A Star Is Born’ tells the story of Jackson Maine (Bradley Cooper) a grizzled, hard-drinking country singer who once scaled the heights of fame, but as the movie opens, is hurtling towards the bottom in a storm of alcohol and drugs. One evening he stumbles into a bar searching for more booze and catches a performance by a waitress named Ally (Lady Gaga), and he’s stunned by her raw talent. Ally has been told that while her songs are amazing, she isn’t pretty enough to be a singer.
Jack invites her to come on tour with him and, against her initial misgivings, convinces her to sing with him on stage. The two develop strong feelings for each other and fall in love, but problems start when Ally’s career starts to take off while Jack’s remains in a downward spiral due to his inability to kick the booze and drugs. It’s not long before Jack’s jealousy and addictions get the best of him and Ally starts to suffer as a result.
‘A Star Is Born’ is a heart-rending tale, but it’s told absolutely beautifully. Bradley Cooper – who also directed, co-wrote and produced the film – is superb as Jack, a man staring bitterly at the last grains of fame he has as they run through his fingers. Cooper doesn’t play Jack as a walking trainwreck, though; rather he’s a man aware of his own failings who can’t help self-harming. As one character points out, it’s not Ally’s success that’s destroying Jack – he’s doing all the damage himself.
The film’s true revelation is Lady Gaga as Ally. The popstar turned actor is genuinely moving as she traces Ally’s journey from an insecure, yet talented singer right the way to an arena-filling juggernaut. She is held back by her love for Jack, certainly, but his pain is a huge source of her inspiration for songs. In a way, they’re as bad as they are good for each other.
The remaining cast is fantastic; special props should go to Sam Elliott as Jack’s brother Bobby, Dave Chapelle as his former musical partner who charted a path to sobriety and Rafi Gavron as Ally’s manager, who is a complete sleaze. But the real draw here is Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga between whom the chemistry is undeniable; they reveal their characters’ damage by inches, hinting that love may prove the path to redemption, and then tearing it away. A Star Is Born is a tear-dropper, for sure, but it’s also one of the best films you’ll watch all year.
Consumers can catch this and other Oscar nominated blockbuster movies such as Black Panther and BlackKklansman available now on streaming service, black.
Image Courtesy: Supplied