Movie of the Week 66
A Star is Born 2018 drama, music, romance
Bradley Cooper makes his director debut and co-wrote the screenplay as well. He is a well-known A-list actor. Lady Gaga, in her first starring role in a major film, was a bit of a wildcard, but she nailed it and was Oscar nominated for best actress for her performance. I had only seen Lady Gaga perform once -at a Superbowl half time show – which is not the same as this work. Can I refer to her as “LG” for short?
Much to my surprise, my wife and I enjoyed the 2018 A Star Is Born. It was even better than the hype. It is so captivating and emotionally powerful with some great musical numbers. The film is perfectly paced and wastes no time introducing the two stars and getting a romance going. Bradley Cooper plays Jackson Maine, a 40-something rock star whose music seems like country or folk interspersed with dynamic rock guitar riffs. His music style reminded me of the Black Keys; one of my favorite groups. Maine is a brooding artist type with an alcohol and drug problem. He is also losing his hearing, which adds to his isolation and despair.
One night, after a concert, Maine is looking for a place to continue drinking and ends up at a drag bar where he sees Ally (LG) perform “La vie en rose.” She really belts it out of the park and brings the audience to their feet. “La vie en rose” is about the bliss and blindness of love, which foreshadows what is to come. They make eye contact and Jackson is smitten. He persuades Ally to hop in his limo, and off they go for an all-nighter of talking and singing. Jackson says to Ally, “Can I tell you a secret? You might be a songwriter.” He is in love, but she is a bit wary and not a typical groupie.
I was much impressed with LG’s performance as an actress. There is not a flat or a false note in her dramatic scenes. Just freshness and authenticity. She was outstanding in the musical scenes, but that is not too surprising. I suppose that the character of Ally is not too far from LG herself. Both Cooper and Gaga brilliantly portray artists because, well, they are artists. The reason Star Is Born gets remade over and over again is very obvious: it is the archetypal vehicle for a Diva. LG with her amazing singing voice, great acting and dancing skills make her the most powerful triple threat in the biz. No one today really compares to her. This is not to dismiss previous actress in the same role. Judy Garland, Barbara Streisand or Janet Gaynor, while in their prime, would most likely receive the same praise.
I won’t say much about the plot of this 2018 version – there already exists an immense amount of film commentary about all four A Star is Born versions (1937, 1954, 1976, 2018). I approached the movie naïvely and enjoyed it all the more. Through some miracle, I didn’t even know the ending. I don’t want to deny you the same pleasure. I highly recommend A Star Is Born – and turn up the volume for the music.
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Written by Ben Clark. Copyright 2016-2023. All rights reserved.