It has now been almost 24 hours since I sat down in the cinema to watch Bradley Cooper’s directorial debut, A Star is Born, which marks the fourth remake of this classic Hollywood love story. Since the moment the credits began to roll, with incessant tears running down my face, I have listened to the song ‘Shallow’ from the film’s soundtrack roughly 152 times. A veritable masterpiece, both visually and vocally, Cooper and Lady Gaga have created a cinematic joy which you simply cannot miss.
The film tells the story of a successful musician, Jackson (played by Cooper), who is spiralling downwards within a world of extreme success, indulgence and substance abuse. He encounters Ally, Gaga’s first leading role, an aspiring singer whose talent brings the pair together. Her song writing and singing voice plays a large role in the beginning of their romance. The film is not only a story of the lives of these lovers within a very public sphere, but also that of dependency, whether that be on drugs, alcohol or another person. It is this theme that provides the film with its great realness.
The undeniable chemistry between Cooper and Gaga makes this film a stunningly emotional viewing experience, a point that many critics have agreed upon. The scenes are subtly staged and directed, resulting in the casual perfection of the acting, all performances seeming natural and organic. The dialogue in this film captures the very raw and real nature of falling in love, the materialisation of dreams and the heartbreak it can entail.
The scenes of intimacy between Ally and Jackson are so convincingly authentic that my flatmate had to close her eyes during them, feeling as though she were intruding on a sincere moment between two real-life lovers. This captures the essence of the film. It is gritty but, in many ways, that is what makes it beautiful.
The songs, written largely by Gaga and Lukas Nelson (the son of country music singer, Willie Nelson), are astoundingly emotive; they are new sounds with ancient sentiment, bringing alive how it feelings to be falling in love and all of its consequences. Gaga’s voice does not fail to amaze whilst Cooper, who seems to have hidden his vocal talent extremely well, has a voice that Gaga says “comes from his soul”. The song ‘Shallow’, as I said before, is extremely powerful and without a doubt the best of the film.
The supporting cast, including Dave Chappelle, Andrew Dice Clay and Sam Elliot, are as well assembled and thought-out as the script and score. A particularly moving performance comes from Sam Elliott who plays Jackson’s older brother and manager. The relationship between the two is complex and mysterious, encompassing Jackson’s alcohol abuse and turbulent past. Cooper is careful to prescribe precise doses of information to his audience, leaving us empathetic and intrigued.
There is not much left to say other than you simply have to see this film. The sheer talent, artistry and passion that has evidently been put in at every level of the creation of ‘A Star is Born’ has made it one of the greatest films I have seen in the past decade. Rather scandalously, I might have even preferred it to La La Land.