Get ready to experience one of the movie events of the year with Bradley Cooper’s wondrous version of A STAR IS BORN.
Well, it’s been a while now since I stopped crying after been blown away seeing A STAR IS BORN. Coming only a few days after seeing the similarly affecting First Man I was in bits. But it’s emotional power hits me again, every time I see an image from the movie or listen to the soundtrack – which I bought the day afterwards :-). The amazing, four-time Oscar-nominated actor Bradley Cooper has made the most astonishing directorial debut with this film. I can’t imagine you won’t cry buckets as I did and you won’t ever be able to forget the experience of watching it for the first time.
‘Tonight, something quite rare happened at the movies. I was part of an audience who were so moved by what we’d seen, we started clapping at the end credits. And the film was the wondrous A STAR IS BORN – bravo Bradley Cooper, Lady Gaga & everyone involved!!’
That’s what I tweeted when I came out of the cinema. Oh my goodness, what a movie. And I haven’t even mentioned the revelatory Lady Gaga in her film acting debut. She is breathtaking as Ally, the talented singer-songwriter struggling to be seen who Cooper’s megastar musician Jackson Maine takes under his wing. Their love affair will break your heart, just as the acting of Gaga and Cooper will knock you for six with its intensity and passion. What a stellar romantic duo they make.
This story of how a seasoned artist launches the career of a seriously talented newcomer but in doing so, his own career spirals downwards has been told on screen three times previously. There’s been Janet Gaynor and Fredric March in 1937, Judy Garland and James Mason in 1954, and Barbra Streisand and Kris Kristofferson in 1976. But what Cooper and his fellow screenwriters Will Fetters and the Oscar-winning Eric Roth have achieved so superbly is to make it feel so vibrant and current by setting this version of A STAR IS BORN in the music industry of today. You see things from the musician’s point of view when they perform on stage and then, in private, how someone copes with the pressures of this mega-celebrity lifestyle. It’s nothing short of magnificent.
Jackson Maine is at the height of his success but he’s far from happy and when his eyes meet Ally’s as she performs Edith Piaf’s ‘La Vie En Rose’ in a drag bar he’s stumbled into after a gig, his life changes at that moment. He’s head-over-heels in love with this young woman and wants to do whatever he can to help her. For Ally, she’s very flattered but initially wary of Jackson’s attention. Then it was the small moment for me of when the two of them are sitting in a parking lot when the tears started to well up in my eyes. Jackson is bandaging Ally’s swollen hand with a bag of frozen peas. She’s hit an obnoxious guy in a bar who’s mouthed off at the megastar. And when she watches him be so caring of her wellbeing, she whispers, “You’re such a sweetheart, aren’t you?” and I thought, that’s it – she’s fallen in love too. So brilliant.
The movie is full of those devastating little moments as we watch Ally’s career soar, Jackson’s crumble and see their love put to the test. Some involve the peerless Sam Elliott who brilliantly portrays Jackson’s older brother and manager, Bobby. Their combustible relationship hints at a very painful past which neither of them seems able to forget and Elliott’s pitch-perfect performance is another gem you’ll discover in this movie. Others involve a fantastic Andrew Dice Clay as Ally’s protective father, and there’s a spot-on cameo from Dave Chappelle as Jackson’s old friend ‘Noodles’. It’s also great to see Ron Rifkin and Greg Grunberg, Cooper’s old co-stars from the tv show Alias (which is where I first saw him) as part of the faultless supporting cast.
Matthew Libatique, the incredible director of photography and long-time Darren Aronofsky collaborator on such movies as Black Swan, and Requiem for a Dream is worth a big mention too. He works terrifically with Cooper on this to shoot all of the concert scenes from the artist’s perspective as I mentioned, whilst also giving the scenes with the lovers an intimate and delicate feel.
When it all comes down to it, I can’t recommend A STAR IS BORN highly enough. It’s one of the movie events of the year and deserves all the awards going. See it!!!