Starring Bradley Cooper, Lady Gaga, and Sam Elliot, 2018’s A Star is Born is based on the 1976 screenplay of the same name and the story by William Wellman and Robert Carson. This telling sees Bradley Cooper’s first solo outing in the director’s chair confidently engage with the fourth telling of A Star is Born.
Bradley Cooper, most known for his role as Marvel’s Rocket Raccoon and Oscar-nominated turn as Chris Kyle, delivers a career best performance as Jackson Maine, a successful rock musician struggling with some demons along the way. Cooper is nearly unrecognizable in the role, both in look and attitude. Stepping away from his early comedic roots and delivering a powerful and down to Earth performance.
Opposite Cooper is Lady Gaga, who is most well known for her bizarre onstage persona and quirky tracks. A few years removed from leaping off a football stadium during a Super Bowl halftime show and blowing America away with one of the greatest National Anthem performances of all-time, adds another monumental achievement to her already decorated career.
Cooper and Gaga’s chemistry is explosive and meaningful. Challenging each other to bring their absolute best, scene to scene, song to song. Cooper is lasting and shabby, and Gaga, earnest but fiery. Together they create a friction that sets the film ablaze. Gaga and Cooper are already rubbing their hands together at the thought of attending next year’s Oscars ceremony by garnering a surefire nomination for Best Actor and Best Actress, respectively. They are just that good.
Gaga reminds of her vocal prowess in the film’s gorgeous musical numbers. Most notably, Shallows being a powerful ballad that accompanies both characters’ journeys from beginning to end, perfectly contrasting Jackson Maine’s more rambunctious rock tracks that perfectly encapsulate his unstable behavior. Through Matthew Libatique’s stunning cinematography we see A Star is Born envisioned with a documentary-esque look, amplifying the way Bradley Cooper decides to guide this story and the way that it highlights key moments and strings them together. Tuning it like an old-fashioned Les Paul and channeling confidence and efficiency and applying it to the film, scenes never overstay their welcome. Each note is in tune and concludes with a brief rest before harmonizing once more.
To say the very least, on all fronts, A Star is Born achieves every goal that it sets out too. Despite a feeling of being all too familiar and walking the line of being unsubtle, A Star is Born bursts with a harrowing confidence and gleaming honesty. For a fourth retelling, the odds were stacked against it, but there is a palpable sense of love for the craft that elevates the film into being one of the year’s very best—a timeless tale that rides our emotions and stings our chest like a potent bottle of whiskey.
Written by Roman Arbisi