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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 around a movie, 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 in possibly a career best. Watching this film reminded me of a time when I used to watch movies like this and wasn’t all judge-y and ready to rip it apart, and just simply enjoyed the viewing experience. I found myself admittedly swept away by this romantic fairy-tale remake, a well-rehearsed love story full of clichés and yet it still managed 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 and it is truly deserved. Ally is a role tailor made for her, in looks, vocal abilities and performance. Gaga is an up-dated Barbara Streisand incarnate (the star of the film’s last remake), possibly a no-brainer for Cooper to cast. A soulful powerful voice, multi-talented, with an unusual kind of beauty that is visually magnetic; I found myself fastidiously examining her chameleon-like facial features in every scene. Appearing more in her element her when belting out a country song, than with an army of backing dancers practicing choreography to a smooth RnB track. Gaga’s theatrical ego we are accustomed to has completely evaporated, to permit a softness and sweetness to seep through, personality traits which conceivably may have been hiding all along behind the fanfare and costume of her iconic pop career
Cooper is equally superb in his delivery as a down trodden singer lost in the perils of fame and alcohol. Jackson is plagued by personal issues and lost to the mayhem of his success, the relentless gigging, addiction but also coming to terms with the decline of his stardom and his fading masculinity which allows for Ally’s star to shine. Cooper plays his part with such frank vulnerability and natural physicality, as we see the years of abuse mirrored in the lines on his face, his overgrown peppered beard and his overall dishevelled appearance. When he tries to occasionally sober up, the overwhelming feelings of guilt and remorse buoy to the surface, it’s all naturally messy and effortlessly real and raw.
Previous remakes include a Judy Garland musical in 1954 as well as Streisand’s 1976 starring vehicle, so the storyline options are limited. This being the fourth remake, 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 music manager with a British accent and the highly unoriginal transformation of Ally from middle-of-the-road singer/ songwriter to RnB pop star. But then this is juxtaposed by the authentic chemistry and the warmth emitting from the interactions between Cooper and Gaga, as well as the natural development of their relationship, which completely elevates the film.
This is not to say A Star is Born is not forumlaic and often problematic with a touch of the misogynistic. It could have easily fallen into the generic trope, but Cooper’s years on various sets, suggest that he has learned some of the mastery in directing. He has his camera filming close-up and personal providing us with an intimate look-in, he allows for over-sentimentality yet avoids sugar-coating, he injects a dose of contrary by leaving confortational moments open-ended. And whilst he does all this, he still 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_.