I didn’t think I would write about A Star Is Born, but two factors inspired me: for some reason the Academy largely dismissed it, and Bradley Cooper’s direction and musical ability are both much more impressive than I expected them to be. Actually, both Cooper and Lady Gaga are surprising. Cooper legitimately sells his performance as a damaged, albeit talented musician, while Gaga’s acting chops are never in question. The two make a great pairing, and their chemistry is undeniable.
A Star Is Born hooked me as soon as the two leads started hanging out, with Jackson (Cooper) drunkenly hitting on Ally (Gaga). The high point of the movie comes soon after, when Ally joins Jackson onstage for an impromptu performance of their first song together, “Shallow.” I’ve re-watched the scene a few times since watching the movie, and I’m sure I’ll return to it again. The first half of the movie is excellent, and the only real weak point in the second half is the introduction of a music producer who seems less like a character and more like a cardboard cutout designed to introduce conflict. Also, Sam Elliot deserves special mention for his role as Jackson’s brother/manager; his conflicts and eventual resolution with Jackson are some of the most compelling moments of the movie.
A Star Is Born works as both a music picture and a romance. It may be a remake of a remake, but it feels fresh thanks to its two charismatic leads. I don’t know why or how Bohemian Rhapsody stole the spotlight that A Star Is Born should be occupying. No matter, because movie and music fans are both lucky that Cooper and Gaga jumped off the deep end and let us watch as they dove in.