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A Star Is Born: Lady Gaga’s channels Barbara Streisand in her finest moment
September 27, 2018
A film starring Lady Gaga is bound to generate some hype, as is currently the case with ‘A Star Is Born’ a befitting role as singer-songwriter Ally who meets and falls in love with troubled, alcoholic country star Jackson Maine played by Bradley Cooper, who also directs. I found myself admittedly swept away by this romantic fairy-tale remake, a well-rehearsed love story full of clichés and yet still manages to feel fresh, credible and unique, signalling Cooper’s directorial flair.
Since the film’s first premiere, Gaga has been receiving praise for her acting. Ally is a role tailor made for her, in looks, vocal abilities and performance; an up-dated Barbara Streisand incarnate (the star of the film’s last remake) and possibly a no-brainer for Cooper to cast. Gaga proves multi-talented with an unusual kind of beauty, visually magnetic with chameleon-like facial features. Comparisons between Gaga and her role as Ally are inevitable. Ally is more in her element when belting out a country song, than with an army of backing dancers shiming away to a smooth RnB track. There is none of the Gaga theatricals, completely done away with to allow for a softness and an innocence to seep through. Personality traits which conceivably may have been hiding all along behind the fanfare and costume of the singer’s actual iconic pop career
Cooper is equally superb as the down trodden country singer, his star slowly dimming, engulfed by the perils of fame and excess. His decline reluctantly allows for Ally’s star to shine. His relationship with Ally, gives him cause to reflect and unearth uncomfortable truths within. Portraying great vulnerability and natural physicality, its an exceptional performance; the years of abuse are perfectly mirrored in the lines on Jackson’s face, his overgrown peppered beard and his overall dishevelled appearance, couldnt be more befiting. When he tries to occasionally sober up, the overwhelming feelings of guilt and remorse buoy to the surface. The whole gamet of emotional depictions translate to a truly authentic portrait of a troubled man, all so naturally messy and raw.
This being the fourth remake (previous entries include the Judy Garland 1954’s musical as wells Streisand’s 1976 starring vehicle) it doesn’t shy away from predictability: such as Ally’s beginnings in a dead-end job, her typical bouncy all-rooting gay friend, the British music manager and the highly unoriginal transformation of Ally from singer/ songwriter to RnB pop star. But then this is juxtaposed by the chemistry and the warmth between Cooper and Gaga, there is a genuine candour in all their interactions, giving their relationship that touch of celluloid magic.
Matters could have easily fallen into the generic trope, but Cooper’s years on film sets suggest that he has learned some of the mastery in film-making. Positioning his camera up-close and personal, he gives the sensation of an intimate look-in, allowing for over-sentimentality but its never saccharine sweet. Confortational moments are left open-ended keeping audiences guessing. And whilst he does all this, he manages to keep the film attainable enough to appeal to a mainstream audience.
A Star Is Born is released in the UK on the 5th of October 2018.
Words By Daniel Theophanous @danny_theo_.