A Star is Born was not what I expected. It’s a deeply moving film, touching on issues familiar and alien to us all, inviting us to sympathise with the story we see on screen. Before I went to see it, there was some Oscar buzz around the film that had me wondering. As Bradley Coopers’ directorial debut, I had wondered about what this movie would involve. The trailer, and the title of the film, leads us to believe this will be a middle of the road remake of the original A Star is Born (1937). Yet, it was the first film to surprise me in a long time.
The strengths of the film lie in three major areas: cinematography, music, and the acting. The way the film is shot really gives a greater impact to many of the scenes, especially on stage. At many points, the audience feels like an onlooker, a perfect way to display that we are gaining a real intimate insight of these characters lives. The scenes onstage are especially good as you get the feeling that you are there with the characters.
The music in the film is fantastic. Lady Gaga is a phenomenal singer, but Bradley Cooper keeps up with her throughout the film. It’s well written and feels like music you could easily hear on the radio, not just written for the film. After seeing the film, the song “Shallow” really sticks with you.
The acting is also excellent throughout. Bradley Cooper is entirely believable as the drunken, worn down singer who falls for the ingenue he meets on the road, and Lady Gaga is wonderful as the young singer jaded by her contact with the music industry and the world at large. Their relationship is the backbone of the film’s plot, and the way they play off each other gives their relationship real chemistry that comes across well on screen. The rest of the cast are great, particularly Sam Elliot who plays Bobby, is fantastic.
Another aspect of the film that I really enjoyed was the inclusion of drag performers. Gaga’s background of performing in drag and with drag queens gave a wonderful backdrop to her character. It was a nice nod to her own roots as a singer.
It’s a real tear-jerker of a film, with emotional scenes that really hit you as a viewer. It’s a film you’ll think about for a while after seeing, and it’s one that warrants a rewatch, as you will want to relive it again. It’s a little bit cheesy at parts, it’s wonderfully cute, and incredibly sad, and that’s what makes it a great film to watch. Is it the most inventive film I’ve ever seen? Not at all; the plot of the film will be familiar to most. Would I watch it again? Heck yeah. As Bobby (Bradley Cooper) in the movie wryly states “Music is essentially any note between twelve octaves. Twelve notes and the octave repeats. It’s the same story told over and over. All that the artist can offer the world is how they see those twelve notes”.
A Star is Born is a film aware of how familiar it is to audiences, and it’s not afraid to own that and use that against its audience to shock and comfort alike. It’s a familiar story, but it’s Coopers way of showing us how he sees those twelve notes and it’s beautiful.
Director: Bradley Cooper
Starring: Bradley Cooper, Lady Gaga, and Sam Elliot