Film Contributor Jacky Sy is full of praise for Cooper’s reprisal of this well-loved classic, starring a well-loved pop icon, Lady Gaga

Written by Jacky Sy
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In Bradley Cooper’s directorial debut, we immediately find rockstar Jackson Maine (Bradley Cooper). Yet despite his amazing success, his life becomes gloomy, due to alcoholism and drug addiction. Until he meets struggling artist Ally (Lady Gaga). Even though she has given up her dream to become a singer, Jackson offers her the chance to be in the spotlight. While Ally’s star status grows, the romantic relationship struggles under the strain of the celebrity lifestyle and the fame that comes with it. 

 Remaking a film, such as this one, usually carries such a risk, as the film-maker often fails to maintain the quality as its predecessors. But despite the risks, A Star Is Born is such a legendary attempt. The story itself has now been successfully retold 4 times. Janet Gaynor and Fredric March starred in the 1937 version and the film won the Academy Award for Best Picture. The second one, starring Judy Garland and James Mason was released in 1954, and was regarded as one of the greatest musicals ever. It was reserved by the US National Film Registry as being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant”. Barbra Streisand and Kris Kristofferson acted in the third version in 1976. Even though the movie wasn’t as well received  by critics as the previous two, it was still a box office hit, earning $80 million and won several awards.

 Did Bradley Cooper’s remake this iconic and historic film successfully? His team certainly think so – they praised him for “creating a magical moment” on and off screen from the sounds of it. He was the perfect director of this film, stepping seamlessly from the role of actor to director, and achieving a steady 91% rotten Tomatoes rating on is directorial debut on a script that he had-written and starred in. 

He was the perfect director of this film, stepping seamlessly from the role of actor to director

Of course, music massively contributes to the film’s success. Pop icon Lady Gaga used “an incredible voice” to describe Bradley Cooper’s soulful singing voice, which is not unlike her own. The production of the soundtrack was a huge team effort, and was a collaboration between Lukas Nelson, DJ White Shadow, Mark Ronson and Diane Warren. It managed to integrate the storyline with melody and lyrics, controlling the audience’s emotions.  Although “Shallow” was the most successful  song (probably because it was released as a single initially), “Always Remember Us This Way” and “I’ll Never Love Again” are something you should not miss, as well as “Why Did You Do That?”, “Heal Me” and “Black Eyes”. That is perhaps why Billboard described the movie as “timeless, emotional, gritty and earnest”.

Another highlight would definitely be Lady Gaga’s performance. After Machete Kills in 2013, Lady Gaga was nominated for the Worst Supporting Actress at the Golden Raspberry Awards. I bet nobody expected this drastic improvement 5 years later. She later became a Golden Globe winner as the Countess in American Horror Story: Hotel, despite her performance, it was nothing but another fashion show, which was coherent with her Mother Monster style and ever-changing aesthetic.

Ally, however, is a totally different character from Gaga’s previous roles. At the age of 30, Ally is insecure about her look and the songs she has composed, and only occasionally performs at a drag bar. It’s only until Jackson’s encouragement that she started to shine on stage. In order to realistically play the character, Lady Gaga gave up the heavy make-up and elegant costumes to create a masterful portrayal of Ally. Her acting was effortless and natural, and definitely something I’d like to see again.

 After the A Star Is Born premiere, during 2018 Toronto International Film Festival, loads of media outlets said that she deserved to shine at the Oscars. 

Verdict: 

An excellent film, directed and co-written, by an amazing new directorial talent. The music was sublime and added everything to the amazing storyline. Lady Gaga was also phenomenal and has definitely redeemed herself in my eyes. 

Rating: 8/10

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