Director: Bradley Cooper
Starring: Bradley Cooper, Lady Gaga, Sam Elliott, Anthony Ramos, Rafi Gavron
IMDB Rating: 8.3/10
Seveno Rating: 6/10
I should probably start off by saying that it’s taken me a week to write this review. I’ll be honest, I didn’t really understand the hype that surrounded this film, and only really went to go and see it because I felt that I needed to form a proper opinion, and to do that I needed to give it a chance and watch it. But this is a heads up that this is going to be a very personal review, if that makes sense, as I can’t really speak about this film without mentioning all my preconceptions.
If you haven’t heard of this film (have you been living under a rock?), Bradley Cooper makes his directorial debut in A Star is Born, starring along side the talented and gorgeous Lady Gaga, as washed up rock star Jack. He meets Ally (Gaga) at a drag night, and is immediately captivated by her and her voice. He helps kickstart her career, and they start a whirlwind romance, as Ally’s career really takes off, and Jack battles with his drink and drug addiction.
So, my hesitations about this film were aplenty. I didn’t understand why someone, somewhere, had decided that this film needed to be remade a fourth time, following the brilliant casting of Barbra Streisand and Judy Garland. To me, it just seemed like a fairly bog standard love story that didn’t need a 21st century remake. I also found that a lot of the praise the film got surrounded around Gaga’s performance, and how it was so incredible, and it was such a shock, and who knew she could act. But in my head, all I kept thinking was “This woman has won an Emmy? We already know she can act?”. And obviously we know she can sing, she’s super-famous, ridiculously talented, and multi-award winning. Not that this in any way detracts from her work in A Star Is Born, but it does mean that the strength of her performance is less surprising, and perhaps less note worthy.
What actually stole the show for me was Bradley Cooper. Not only is he an accomplished actor, but it would seem that he can hold is own singing a duet with Lady Gaga, which is a truly impressive feat. His performance is gut wrenching, and you really feel for Jack and the struggles he’s facing. He isn’t always the most likeable character, and I’ll be honest there were times I did wonder why Ally continued to put up with him. But, in spite of all of this, watching his final scenes in the film really got to me. His performance managed to keep Jack as someone you still rooted for, and liked, despite his many, many flaws.
Furthermore, Cooper’s direction was perfectly good. That may not sound like a glowing review, but it’s fair to say that my expectations were fairly low, and it really surprised me. I wouldn’t be surprised if he made more films in the future, as he did do a good job with this one. I’d like to see what he could do with perhaps some more interesting material.
I say more interesting material, as in spite of the emotional effect that the ending had on me, on the whole A Star is Born is a glorified rom-com (without much com). It’s a classic cinderella story, small-town Ally meets a big, rich, handsome star, and they fall in love, and then she becomes a massive success to. There are more intense moments, but the majority of it is this cliche love story (again: why did they remake this??). But for me, what saved the film, and what actually resulted in me leaving the cinema and thinking “well actually, that was not at all a bad film, or a waste of my time” was the ending. I have never seen any of the three originals, and while I know this ending is slightly different, I truly did not anticipate that it would be so dark. I had predicted that the relationship would fail, or maybe if they really wanted the cliche there might be a happy ending, but I didn’t see Jack’s death as an outcome. And I certainly didn’t expect him to commit suicide, although in hindsight, following his conversation with the man he met in rehab, I probably should’ve guessed.
A lot of the praise the movie has received has been for it’s soundtrack. I can’t say any of the songs really stood out for me. Lady Gaga’s performance of I’ll Never Love Again was effectively heartbreaking, but the song itself didn’t do very much for me. The earlier versions of Shallow were enjoyable, but my favourite was probably Black Keys, not really sure why, but I think it just fit Jack’s character perfectly, and the whole Southern faded rock star vibe.
Also, just a personal issue I had with the film – why cast the extremely talented Anthony Ramos in such a small part? This man has an incredible voice, and I spent a large part of the film waiting for his duet with Lady Gaga which never came. Colour me disappointed.
Apologies for this fairly repetitive and negative review. I know a lot of people absolutely love this film, but for me it was just overwhelming average. Ideally, if I could give this film two ratings, I would give the hour and forty-five minutes a 5/10, and the last half hour a strong 8/10. But I can’t do that, so sadly it averages out to a mediocre 6/10. My expectations were extremely low, and most of this film fulfilled what expectations I had. Bradley Cooper surprised me in so many ways, and Lady Gaga was as impressive as I knew she would be. But the majority of this film was just not interesting. It wasn’t boring, I was engaging with the material, and the characters, but the subject was just so dull. The final scenes of the film really saved it for me, and had me sobbing into my diet coke, which really was a tragic sight for all.
So while this film was not bad, I still for the life of me cannot understand why it was made, and am struggling to grasp why everybody is raving about it.
So please, if you have answers for me, it would be much appreciated.