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A STAR IS BORN (2018)
A Star is Born (2018) poster

CAST
BRADLEY COOPER
LADY GAGA
ALEC BALDWIN
DAVE CHAPPELLE
ANDREW DICE CLAY
SAM ELLIOTT
RAFI GAVRON
ANTHONY RAMOS

BASED ON THE 1954 SCREENPLAY BY
MOSS HART

BASED ON THE 1976 SCREENPLAY BY
JOAN DIDION
JOHN GREGORY DUNNE
FRANK PIERSON

BASED ON A STORY BY
ROBERT CARSON
WILLIAM A. WELLMAN

SCREENPLAY BY
BRADLEY COOPER
WILL FETTERS
ERIC ROTH

PRODUCED BY
BRADLEY COOPER
BILL GERBER
LYNETTE HOWELL TAYLOR
JON PETERS
TODD PHILLIPS

DIRECTED BY
BRADLEY COOPER

GENRE
DRAMA
MUSIC

RATED
AUS:M
UK:15
USA:R

RUNNING TIME
136 MIN

 

 

A Star is Born image

Strong performances cannot overcome questionable storytelling in A Star is Born, a movie about love and fame in the music industry that just cannot sustain the power and melody of its wonderful opening bars.

Movie remakes are in many ways like a cover song. The new artist takes the original and imprints his/her own voice and style. A Star is Born, the third remake of the 1937 William A. Wellman classic of the same name, presents itself as a scruffy country rock lick drenched in booze and bad decisions. The film is directed, co-written and stars Bradley Cooper as Jackson Maine, a popular country alternative rock singer and songwriter, who’s percent for booze and pills equals his love for music. After another successful show, Jackson seeks alcoholic relief at a downtown bar. Instead he finds destiny in the form of Ally (Lady Gaga), a talented singer/songwriter looking for that big break she is content will never come. A powerful partnership is formed, and it is these moments of courting and forging bonds in love and music that are far and away the best in the film.  

“Chemistry” is a word freely thrown about in romance movies, yet it is suited here. You can practically see sparks fly whenever Cooper and Gaga come together on screen, so strong the connection between these two stars. Even better is the beautiful music the pair create together. Once particular song, “Shallows”, is a guaranteed lock for a Best Original Song Oscar and has the potential to be a hit song on airwaves traditional and digital too. The performance of the song also stands as one of the best cinematic moments of 2018, where potential is realised, and destinies are fulfilled.

Yet from such highs comes the eventual lows, and A Star is Born is not exempt from that rule. As the films progresses and Ally transitions into a popstar of little virtue, the film begins to lose its soul and melody. The performances from Cooper and Gaga are fine, Cooper’s especially more so, as the Oscar nominee portrays his characters gruff exterior and broken centre to heartbreaking results.

It is Cooper’s choices as a filmmaker that are put to doubt. For a directorial debut, Copper is indeed impressive. Yet there are lessons to be learned here in getting those storytelling beats down pat. Emotional and visual plateaus are delivered very early and are not followed up on, pacing is an issue especially during a dreary second act, and the films conclusion relies on emotional manipulations that is damn near exploitative in nature.

Early indicators say that A Star is Born is a potential frontrunner this Awards season. While it is indeed a fine movie, it should instead be a frontrunner for more overrated film of 2018.

***1/2

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