Friday, October 12, 2018

A Star is Born

Starring: Lady Gaga, Bradley Cooper, Sam Elliott, Dave Chappelle
Director: Bradley Cooper
Running Time: 2 hours, 15 minutes
Rating: R

I knew I would love this movie from the moment I heard it was in production. I'm very partial to Gaga; anything she touches is gold in my eyes. I wasn't familiar with the 3 previous film versions of "A Star is Born", so I knew very little about the plot going in. I could have watched Bradley Cooper and Gaga for hours. Their chemistry is palpable, and while I wasn't surprised that she was amazing, this was the best I've ever seen Cooper. He completely became his character; he was not the blue-eyed Cooper we all know and love. And for his directorial debut? This film was heartbreakingly beautiful. From the very first scene, it was easy to buy in to this world they created for us. I won't spoil anything, in case there's anyone else out there in the world who didn't know the story. I'll just urge you to see this magical film as soon as you can.

This is a remarkable story of being in the right place at the right time, and how one artist helped jump start the career of another, while also falling in love. We meet Jackson Maine onstage, ripping into a bottle of booze as fast as he rips into the next song. He is weathered, with bloodshot eyes and sunburned skin. It's remarkable that he can remember the notes and words of the song for how loaded he is. Ally is a waitress, and aspiring singer/songwriter in her free time. She struggles with self-esteem and lacks the confidence it takes to pursue a career in music. Ally regularly performs at a drag bar, and one night, famed musician Jack Maine hears her sing, and practically falls in love with her in that moment. They talk all night about life, music, fears and dreams, and he arranges for her to go on tour with him, much to her surprise. We're entranced by Jack's charisma, and fall in love with him at the same time Ally does. We share in her misery when he drinks too much, wasting what talent he has left.

This film has an interesting commentary on the media and public image of an artist. Ally initially finds success being herself, performing singer-songwriter tunes, with little makeup and zero intention behind her every move. When she links up with producer Rez, nearly everything about her changes - her clothes, her appearance, her music, her art - it's a shocking transformation, and Jack isn't shy about letting her know that. While she reaches super-stardom, Jack fears she has totally lost touch with who she is. It's hard for her to hear this from a man who is rarely sober.

Supporting characters Lorenzo (Ally's father, played wonderfully by Andrew Dice Clay) and Bobby (Jack's brother, played by the always amazing Sam Elliott) add to the film, though it's really Ally and Jack's world we're interested in. We get backstory from both characters, but the present is more captivating.

I can't stop singing "Shallow", the lead song of the film. If anyone had doubts that Gaga had amazing pipes, shame on you; but if anyone was unsure of Cooper's vocal and musical abilities, you'll be pleasantly surprised. He even took vocal lessons to lower his voice an entire octave - something noticeable which definitely added to the authenticity of his character. I'm eager to check out the previous 3 versions of this film, though I can't imagine they'll be able to top this one.

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