A Star is Born has always had a habit of attracting some of the biggest stars to its cast. The original 1937 film starred Janet Gaynor and Fredric March, followed by Judy Garland and James Mason for the 1954 musical and Barbra Streisand and Kris Kristofferson in the 1976 remake. Four decades later and Bradley Cooper is remaking the film for the fourth time in his ambitious directorial debut. Opposite Cooper is Lady Gaga, who doesn’t hold back in the slightest in what will no doubt be a career defining moment of an already monumental career. A Star is Born sings loud and is one of the best films of the year.
Singer Jackson Maine (Bradley Cooper) is as talented as artists come, regularly selling out stadiums to adoring fans, but his constant drinking often gets him in trouble. Following a gig one night, he decides to randomly stop off at the closest bar for a drink and where he sees Ally (Lady Gaga) singing on stage. Jack is immediately taken in by both her talent and her beauty and believes that she has what it takes to be a star. The two quickly strike up a fiery romance, and while Ally’s career begins to skyrocket, Jack’s starts to tumble when his drinking and drug use gets out of hand. Despite their troubles, the two are determined to stay true to each other, whatever the cost may be.
Both Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga absolutely shine in A Star is Born. I knew they were talented, Cooper as an actor and Gaga as a singer, but the film showcases just how far their skills branch out. It’s both of them literally out there in the spotlight singing just as you would expect at any concert or show. There’s no trickery or awkward camera angles to hide what isn’t there. As a director, Cooper clearly put his trust in the talents of his cast and it pays off tenfold. I knew Gaga could sing but she shows a vulnerability rarely seen on screen. Their relationship feels real and is driven by the attention to detail in the little things like how Jack likes to run his finger down Ally’s nose. The stellar performances don’t just stop at Cooper and Gaga either. Sam Elliott stars as Jack’s older brother and manager Bobby, and he absolutely steals every scene he’s in. There’s an intimacy to every scene as you become attached to these characters and their stories.
Music has been vital to every iteration of A Star is Born after the original and this one is no different. All of the songs are amazing but “Shallow” in particular is something special. Its lyrics are emotional and enhanced by the powerful voices of Gaga and Cooper. The way the music connects to and enhances their characters brings it to life like nothing else. It’s an extension of their thoughts and emotions and gives us another window into their state of being throughout the film.
Everything about A Star is Born is phenomenal but it’s Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga who truly shine the brightest. Even though we’re now on the fourth remake of this film, I can’t imagine it with anyone else. That’s just how good they are. From the directing and the cinematography to the acting and the music, every element of A Star is Born is tailored to perfection. Oscars season has officially arrived.