How can you possibly go to the well for a FOURTH time and emerge with something absolutely brilliant?
First released in 1937 (81 years ago, for those counting), re-made in 1954 with Judy Garland and James Mason, then re-packaged yet again in 1976 with Barbara Streisand and Kris Kristofferson, it’d be a tough sell to say that we really, really NEEDED another version of ‘A Star Is Born’. But darned if the re-telling of this tale is not only an original gem in its own right – it’s a glorious breath of fresh air.
And maybe…..just maybe…the best movie of the year.
Bradley Cooper is not only sitting tall in the director’s chair for ‘A Star Is Born’, he’s bravely strutting a confident yet tragically broken swagger as the lead. Jackson Maine is a country rocker playing night after night to sold-out arena shows, but off-stage, the grizzled singer is barely holding it together, tumbling deeper and deeper into addiction.
A late-night stop at a drag bar (when told it’s “not his kinda place”, Maine growls, “You got liquor in there? Then it’s my kinda place!”) brings waitress/singer Ally (Lady Gaga) to Jackson’s attention. Belting out a boisterous version of La Vie en rose is enough to win Maine over. So after some bonding over drinks, bar brawls and deep chats about songwriting, it isn’t long until the superstar drags the rookie on stage at one of his big shows to perform a duet of one of her tunes.
Without spilling any spoilers, she kills it. And both her rise to the top, and their relationship, begin.
So far, the story’s sort of been told before, right? Sure. But that doesn’t erase any of the unbelievable passion behind ‘A Star Is Born’, which is really the fuel for this project. Lady Gaga, no huge stranger to acting as she’s won an Emmy for TV’s ‘American Horror Story’, is deservedly receiving most of the praise for the film, but quite honestly, Cooper is just as good. Together, their chemistry is off the charts – it’s so easy to laugh and/or cry right along with these two, the connection they make with the audience is THAT strong. Add Sam Elliot, perfect as always playing Cooper’s long-suffering brother, and I see a lot of Oscar nominations in acting categories coming down the pike near Spring.
An old fashioned love story with contemporary glitz, ‘A Star Is Born’ is one of those rarities that’s as good as you’ve heard. In fact, probably better.