MOVIE: A STAR IS BORN
STARRING: BRADLEY COOPER; LADY GAGA; SAM ELLIOT
DIRECTED BY: BRADLEY COOPER
AMovieGuy.com's RATING: 4 STARS (Out of 4)
The lyrics go like this, “Tell me something girl, are you happy in this modern world? Or do you need more? Is there something else your searching for?” And just like that, we're instantly hooked. Like a fish to bait. Or a fly to a flame. The beautiful lyrics in the song “Shallow” sums up what A Star is Born is all about. Two people, extremely talented, and always searching for more, when their beautiful love is right in front of them. I will admit that I am the perfect person to project this movie into my eyeballs, because I can candidly admit that I am madly smitten with Lady Gaga. Anyone who saw the documentary Gaga: Five Foot Two knows how talented this woman is. An old soul, much like Judy Garland or Barbara Streisand before her, she was born to play the lead role in A Star is Born. It's the fourth time this story has been told and Bradley Cooper has done a wonderful job of brining it back into our modern world.
Gaga is Ally, a New Jersey girl, who works nights at a hotel, takes care of her father Lorenzo (Andrew Dice Clay), and sings when the opportunity arrives. Cooper is Jackson Maine, one of the biggest music stars in the world, and addicted to his pills and booze. One night after a show, Jackson stumbles into a bar that just so happens to be a drag bar where Ally performs “La Vie En Rose”, and with a voice like that, no matter what state of mind he is in, Jackson takes notice. The two have a romantic night of conversation and the hooks are sunk in. Ally is a tremendous, beautiful talent, and Jackson can't wait to get her on stage to perform "Shallow", in by far one of the greatest scenes in 2018. The song, the performance, is all put together like a euphoric dream, but like most dreams, reality waits on the other side.
For this being Cooper's directorial debut, the work gives off the vibes of a seasoned veteran behind the camera. It helps to have cinematographer Matthew Libatique shooting two beautiful people such as Gaga and himself, but the American Sniper star has made a version of A Star is Born that fits perfectly into the current times of the music industry. The screenplay by Cooper, Eric Roth, and Will Fetters add humanity to each character involved. Jackson has lived a majority of his life on the road, struggles with loss of hearing in his right ear, and constantly battles with his brother Bobby (Sam Elliot- as good as ever). Ally is on a different path, similar to Lady Gaga herself, she develops a mixture that is pop hits and smooth crooner songs. In the middle, these two lovers meet, but Jackson's addiction hangs over like a dark shadow. This is a story of Ally's rise, but it's also Jackson's fall.
The music, the performances, and the direction could easily overshadow the second and third acts, and some critics will suggest that the second half of A Star is Born is not as good as the first. They would be wrong. I found the balance between romance and a deeper look at a persons struggle with addiction to be striking the right chord. Jackson's not a cliché of what the disease or problem of alcoholism looks like. If we look real close, we see the beauty is inside of him. He's a massive talent and Ally is struck with the difficult task of trying to save him. When the two make music together, you just know it is love.
Yes, this is the fourth version of A Star is Born, but this might be the story's crowning achievement. Four versions and all of them bringing their own unique voice to the romance. And then there is Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga, destined to earn Oscar nominations for their phenomenal work. They have officially crashed through the surface of stardom. They are far from the shallow now.
Written by: Leo Brady