Bradley Cooper’s directorial debut project ‘A Star is Born’ should not be much of a surprise to everyone. It is a story that has been remade and re-angled at various decades in cinema like a Shakespeare play being put to film a hundred times.
The sense of familiarity over the plot it was telling can be a hindrance, as it essentially moves beat by beat the same way as its previous incarnations. But Cooper decides to emphasize music this time as his choice of weapon for drama, and the payoff is a big win for him.
Aside from directing and penning the screenplay, he also stars in the film as Jackson Maine, a popular country singer who discovers Ally (Lady Gaga), performing at a bar. Impressed by her talent, Jackson followed and formed an unexpected bond with her, leading to having her sing at one of his concerts, and eventually a quick rose to fame.
‘A Star is Born’ has always been about the demystification of stardom. By putting the modern music industry on the map, Cooper delves into underlooked issues such as manufactured personas among artists and the tragic send-off to those who forbid its mechanics.
But the film decides to not focus on the stars themselves, but the people behind them. It embraces romance, allowing for the songs sung by their respective alter-celebrity part be the expressive force for the direction they seek to head to. A lot of people will recall Damien Chazelle’s ‘La La Land’ because of its similarity in themes.
‘A Star is Born’ is about a dismissal of dreams, and creates a striking statement that success could very well be a non-sensical illusion to the other obstacles we seemingly left behind.
As for the title used, Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga are literally new stars born in this one. Cooper, in one of his better performances, directed this film with a clear love of his characters.
On the other hand, Lady Gaga was a stand-out. If she is here to put on a show she has been doing so well in her music career, she very well replicates it for this film. Cooper and Gaga both showed a new layer of talent I wish be explored more in the future.
The songs composed for this film is exceptional, obviously sung wonderfully by Gaga and Cooper. The tricky thing about its use though is how the film seems to be dependent on them to posit the catharsis of its two leads, rather than heightening it.
It works for the most part, especially with its final song. This is one of the reasons why Gaga’s casting, over hundreds of more experienced actresses, worked so well. She knows how to make a song her own, even on a flamboyant rendition of ‘La Vie en Rose.’ She has mastered the game of emotions through rhythmic lyrics and beats that we, as an audience.
I smell a flock of nominations (and likely wins) on award shows for her. She’s that good of a music carrier as much as an actress.