Released: 18th October
Seen: 9th November
There is probably no movie that’s been remade more times than A Star Is Born. It started as a film called “What Price Hollywood” back in 1932 before it got the iconic title we now know in 1937 when Janet Gaynor took on the lead role. It was an episode of the TV series Robert Montgomery Presents back in 1951. 1954 brought us the Judy Garland version of this story. Barbra Streisand had her turn at it in 1976 and now it’s Lady Gaga’s turn to take on the role of a young songwriter who falls for an older alcoholic who slowly pulls her into the spotlight and might end up taking her down with him… I look forward to the remake in 2035 when a sentient AI that sings will star in the new version.
The story of this film is simple, which is probably why it’s managed to last as long as it has. It’s a simple story of a young starlet ascending in popularity while the man who helped her rise is slowly going down. While her star is exploding, his is imploding. It’s a simple but powerful tale of two people going in opposite directions in life and clinging together for as long as they can, even when that might cause one of them to lose everything that she worked for. Ally (Played by Lady Gaga) is a young waitress who moonlights in a drag club, performing cover songs to a very happy crowd. One night Jack (Played by Bradley Cooper) comes into the bar and is instantly smitten by Ally. Even though he is constantly drunk, he can see she has a raw talent and a story that people need to hear so he pulls her onto his stage and helps her slowly start to become more and more famous. They fall in love as he slowly helps her share her gift with the world, even though his alcholism is slowly killing his career, his family and possibly even Jack himself.
So… Lady Gaga needs to just clear space on her mantle for the Oscar. Right now. I know she’s probably on a press tour, she needs to go home right now and dust off a spot where she’s going to put that solid gold statue that she’s bringing home because she completely owns every second that she’s on screen. Gaga has always been great, but here she is actually perfect in every way. She is carrying this movie and as you watch her slowly ascend into the incredible star that Ally was meant to be, every single moment that she’s on screen is incredible. There’s a purity to her performance, a raw undeniable power that flows through every song and every action that is just… there is no way to describe it other than just saying “She has the Oscar now, everyone else may go home”.
She’s helped immensely by Bradley Cooper who not only gives the best performance he’s ever given in his life, he directed and produced and he wrote and contributed songs. I won’t be surprised if he helped with craft services and you can tell he is absolutely in love with this movie because he poured everything into it. The two of them together have a chemistry that is so palpable that you can’t help but just stare longingly at them while they talk over each other about random things. If they didn’t have such a powerful connection then there is no way on earth that scenes of talking over each other would end up working as well as they do, but here it feels real and it’s incredible to witness.
Even though it’s (Sorry) a tale as old as time, there is enough new material here that makes this version feel fresh. Little details like their first meeting happening in a gay bar or Ally performing on Saturday Night Live are nice little modern additions that work well with this story. There are moments in this movie that are better than they have any right to be, things that we’ve seen before in other movies with this same name that shouldn’t work are just perfect here. When the first big concert happens and Ally has to perform “Shallow” on stage with Jack, it’s not only the moment the film goes from Great to Iconic, it’s the moment when you can see why this was made. I swear that every single musical number in this film is a genuine delight to see, even the song that’s meant to be representative of everything wrong with Pop Music is a joy to see. Your heart will break during the final number, just be prepared for that because I wasn’t and I still have chest pains from the sobbing.
This is easily one of the most amazing films of the year. Brilliant direction, performances that will define a generation and music that will bring a tear to your eye. If you had no intention on seeing this one, just go see it. Go see it because it’s a genuinely incredible movie that we won’t see again… for like 30 years when they remake it again, but I doubt that remake will be as good as this one was.