A Star Is Born
This is a unique film that stands out as a tragic love story wrapped around penetrating music.
What other movie classics other than A Star Is Born has been remade over the last 70 years to such great success? It began with Frederick March and Janet Gaynor in 1937, followed by James Mason and Judy Garland in the classic version appearing in 1954, the lackluster recreation starring Kris Kristofferson and Barbra Streisand in 1976 and now the new version directed and starring Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga. Yet it remains a heartbreaking romantic saga that is as relevant today as it was in the 1930’s.
To begin with, this is a love story involving two people on adjoining professional ladders heading in the opposite direction. It centers on a veteran musician named Jackson Maine (Bradley Cooper) who is fighting both alcoholism and drug addiction following his concerts. In the process, he goes to a strip club where he is entranced by a singer known as Ally (Lady Gaga) as she sings “La Vie en Rose”. A romance ensues that you immediately suspect will challenge both of them.
Cooper gives a brilliant performance as Mr. Maine, a shaggy, long-haired singer who resembles an exhausted Jackson Browne. When he meets Ally, it is clear that she has all but given up her chances of becoming a recognized singer, and he soon brings her on stage at one of his performances that launches her career.
Though the two differ in age and temperament, it is clear that their love for each other is genuine. While Maine’s addictions are leading to a destruction of his fame, Ally simultaneously passes him with the help of Rez, a singularly dedicated promoter played memorably by Rafi Gavron.
Without going further, let me say that it is extraordinarily likely that Mr. Cooper will receive a strong Oscar nomination in the Director category and Lady Gaga is likely to be the front runner for Best Actress. As they face numerous challenges in their relationship, they never lose sight of the fact that they have accidentally discovered the love of their life.
Before I go further, let me acknowledge some other remarkable performances, beginning with Andrew Dice Clay as Lorenzo, Ally’s father. An L.A. limo owner surrounded by some funny colleagues, he is dedicated to her professional success. In the process, he demonstrates an acting talent that has all but been forgotten.
Let me also point out Sam Elliott as Bobby, Jackson’s older brother. He brings to this movie the same strength he deployed in I’ll See You In My Dreams (2015) and The Hero (2017).
It has been a long time since Hollywood has had the nerve to provide us with a romantic cinematic tale of this film’s caliber, and you only have to think back to Clark Gable and Vivien Leigh in Gone With The Wind (1939) and Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman in Casablanca in 1941. This movie involves every member of the audience in an emotional story of two lovers who sooner or later are going to have to say goodbye. I would advise all of you to bring tissue, as the ending is overwhelmingly likely to produce some tears.
Before closing, let me point out the fantastic music of this film. Bradley Cooper gives some very strong concert performances while playing a guitar and Lady Gaga will capture your heart as she sings a variety of songs that are also likely to receive Oscar consideration. Do songs entitled “Always Remember Us This Way,” “Before I Cry,” “Too Far Gone” and “I’ll Never Love Again” entice you?
If you liked last year’s The Greatest Showman, you will be entranced by this film from beginning to end. Though it has weaknesses they are meaningless. It tells the story that confronts us all, namely the nerve to fall in love in the face of a social order that will likely drive us apart.