By Lauren Harding
Directed by Bradley Cooper (Feature Debut)
Cast: Bradley Cooper, Lady Gaga, Sam Elliott
Duration: 136 Minutes
A Star is Born, stars Bradley Cooper (who also directs) and Lady Gaga as the leads in this love story, a re-telling of the classic 1937 film of the same name.
Bradley Cooper plays Jackson Maine, a famous, but fading country music singer. He is a self-medicating alcoholic, suffering from tinnitus and reluctantly managed by his older brother Bobby (played brilliantly by Sam Elliott).
Lady Gaga portrays Ally Campana, an unknown, but very talented, singer and songwriter. Ally has tried to break into the music industry but was rejected, based on how she looks (“almost every single person I’ve come in contact with in the music industry tells me that my nose is too big and that I won’t make it”). This element speaks to our own time and how cookie-cutter the music industry can be in producing mainstream music. It is a key point to the overarching question the film asks, what is the essence of music? Is it just a form of entertainment, or should it be artists expressing their souls?
When Jackson and Ally meet, they begin a journey of love, stardom and best of all, music. You know this movie is going to be great from the moment Ally and Jackson sing ‘Shallow’ as a duet. The soundtrack for this film is reminiscent of the popular jazz score from La La Land, in that it’s full of catchy and soulful songs that strike a chord within you, causing this writer to repeatedly listen to stream the songs after leaving the cinema.
Lady Gaga’s performance is strong; when Ally sings, Gaga takes you with her. There is an intensity in her energy and emotion as Ally; at times it feels that Lady Gaga has bared her own soul. The chemistry between Ally and Jackson is palpable, to the point that one could believe that Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper do love each other.
Bradley Cooper is a brilliant actor and he truly shines in his role as Jackson. His foreshadowed downward spiral is an emotional journey, Jackson is a shipwreck and anyone who stays on board will go down with him. Not even love can salvage him, not from his brother, nor Ally. Cooper plays Jackson with such raw melancholy, that it leaves you with heartache. Bradley Cooper’s performance will no doubt earn him another Oscar nomination, perhaps even the win.
The direction of the film is perfect, Bradley Cooper understands his audience. He has shot the film at close range so that the viewers feel up close and personal with the characters; that you were one of the crowd watching this story unfold. It’s these moments, when the characters are vulnerable, that Bradley has captured.
Sam Elliot is a strong contender for a Best Supporting Actor Oscar nomination in his role as Bobby. He is the epitome of grief, Bobby is tired of looking after his alcoholic brother, who won’t listen to advice or rehabilitate himself. He is forlorn, regretful of his own lack of success and missed opportunity. Bobby is under-appreciated and tries to do his best for Jackson, but fails and accepts it. In a particular car scene, Sam Elliot’s performance as Bobby is so poignant, he was able to convey such raw emotion without speaking, that it reduced this viewer to tears.
It is worth noting, this film isn’t perfect. There are flaws, with the worst being the lack of timeline clarity and some scenes that appeared unnecessary. There are only small indicators of how much time has passed between events, blink and you will miss them. Without a noticeable time regression, one could think the whole story took place in a short period. This poses an unrealistic and unrelatable narrative, which would alienate the audience. However, these imperfections are minor and do not affect the overall screenplay or pacing.
Regardless of these minor gripes, A Star is Born is an Oscar contending film with great acting performances, direction and, of course, a wonderful soundtrack.
Have you seen A Star Is Born? Do you agree or disagree with Lauren? Let us know in the comments!
Lauren Harding is a contributor for The Pioneer Australia who is based in Canberra. Her love for movies, music and video games is only matched by her love for her two dogs!