REVIEW: ‘A Star is Born’ will hook you in with passionate musical scenes

I’ll admit, when I hear the title, I think of the song at the end of the Disney “Hercules” movie.

In all seriousness, “A Star is Born” is actually a remake of a 1937 film with the same name. In fact, along with this most recent adaptation, that 1937 movie has been remade two other times in 1954 and 1976. This newest version was directed and co-written by Bradley Cooper, who also stars in the film as the lead character Jack.

Jack is a successful musician with plenty of hits, but also faces problems. Not only does one of his ears have a medical issue, but he’s also suffering from alcoholism. Despite, this, though, he meets a talented singer named Ally (Lady Gaga) who’s been overlooked her whole life. Not only do the two strike up a relationship, but Jack also helps Ally get her talent noticed. A strain remains, though, because of Jack’s health.

As far as directorial debuts go, “Star is Born” is a great one for Cooper. This is a finely crafted picture with a lot of attention to detail put into the overall product. This is especially true during the musical performances. The duet of the song “Shallow” during a concert by the two lead characters is one of the major standouts and pulls an audience in without letting go.

Like the musical sequences, the moments showcasing the interpersonal relationships between characters is another thing the film has working for it. From Jack’s romance with Ally to his strained relationship with his brother Bobby (Sam Elliot), each scene with the characters laying out their feelings and emotions is done with passion.

The film does run into some issues, though, when it comes to its storytelling. There’s a lot of things that happen in this movie, especially in Ally’s life. This would make one think that a lot of time, at least several months have passed. However, the film doesn’t showcase this passage of time very well.

It’s understandable that the film wanted to show how quickly a person can rise in the entertainment industry, yet at times it seems like Ally’s rise takes place over a few weeks, rather than months. As a result, some of the changes and developments are difficult to absorb.

Not helping the situation are a few moments here and there that were a bit too over-dramatic.

The picture continues to win points, though, thanks to the fantastic cast on screen. Cooper, for example, does arguably his best work here. At the very least, it’s in his top three performances, up there with his work in “American Sniper” and “Silver Linings Playbook.” Not only does he nail the busy, road-traveling and charming musician well, Cooper also manages to portray his character’s battle with addiction in convincing fashion.

Another solid performance comes from Lady Gaga. Her acting is top notch here and she even manages to steal a few of the scenes. It also helps that her and Cooper have a nice chemistry onscreen throughout the movie.

The supporting cast is great, too. Sam Elliot gives his best performance in years as Jack’s brother, while Dave Chappelle does small but quite meaningful work.

Not everything works in “A Star is Born,” but overall, it’s one of 2018’s top tier pictures and should enjoy a nice award season run. 4.3 out of 5.

Author: Matthew Liedke

Journalist and film critic in Minnesota. Graduate of Rainy River College and Minnesota State University in Moorhead. Outside of movies I also enjoy sports, craft beers and the occasional video game.

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