Hot off its numerous Oscar nominations, “A Star is Born” hits home release with a truckload of hype behind it. The question is, does it live up to that hype?
The answer for me, and many other people I’ve spoken to, is a resounding “yes”. Reading the synopsis for it, you would think that it would be like watching a Hallmark film, and in the hands of lesser actors and filmmakers it could have turned out that way. However, Bradley Cooper’s directorial debut manages to sidestep all the clichés you would usually associate with films like this, and instead we get a film that feels raw and honest, with a cracking soundtrack to boot.
The story itself has been told a bunch of times. A self destructive musician finds his muse, she becomes famous herself, and the story goes from there. The difference here is in the presentation. From the very first scene where we see Jackson Maine (Cooper) on stage, it’s not shot like a traditional concert scene in a film. The camera is on stage, in the actor’s faces as they perform, capturing every chord, every word, and it really immerses you into what it’s like to be on a hot, sweaty stage in a way I’ve never seen captured on film. This “in your face” style of directing really informs the performances of everyone in the film; there’s nowhere for them to hide so everyone has to bring their A-game. Cooper is terrific as the musician battling his demons, but this really is Gaga’s film. Whether it be acting or singing, she is absolutely spectacular in this, and deserves all the praise being lavished her way. While Gaga steals the film, Sam Elliott delivers a brilliant understated performance as Jackson’s long suffering tour manager. Both he and Gaga should walk away with their respective Oscars if there is any justice in the movie world.
All this would be for naught if the songs weren’t up to scratch, but Cooper, Gaga, Mark Ronson (yes, THAT Mark Ronson), and Lukas Nelson (son of Willie Nelson), have put together songs deserving of the performances of the actors performing them. It’s also helped by the fact that the live performances were filmed in front of live crowds, so there aren’t shots of obvious CGI crowds that would take you out of the performances.
In the same way that “The Greatest Showman” has dominated the DVD and music charts over the last nine months, “A Star is Born” is surely poised to do the same. It’s a simple story, brilliantly performed and shot, with memorable songs, and most importantly it feels authentic, which is why I think the film has connected and resonated so much with people, even those who wouldn’t normally watch a film of this type, and I would have counted myself as one of those people. I was happy to be wrong in this instance because this film floored me on every level.
Don’t be disappointed – order it as soon as you possibly can.
These are the talented and insightful words of our Kevin Dillon, @kevinwritestuff.
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