Rajeev Masand – movies that matter : from bollywood, hollywood and everywhere else

October 13, 2018

Star bright

Filed under: Their Films — Rajeev @ 12:56 am

October 12, 2018

Cast: Bradley Cooper, Lady Gaga, Sam Elliott, Andrew Dice Clay, Rafi Gavron

Director: Bradley Cooper

There have been many stories about the transient nature of fame and success in show business, but none has endured quite like A Star is Born. Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga feature in the fourth version of this timeless romantic saga about an A-list star who discovers and woos a young aspiring artiste, only to watch her career rise even as his gradually fades.

The formula still works even 81 years after it was first put on screen…possibly because it’s an irresistible fairytale story (albeit without the happy-ever-after ending), and because it invariably attracts top-tier talent like Judy Garland and Barbara Streisand who starred in previous versions of the film.

The new one is directed by Bradley Cooper himself, who stars as Jackson Maine, a jaded, forty-something rock-god who still sells out entire stadiums but he’s got a steadily worsening alcohol and drug addiction problem. Lady Gaga plays Ally, a plucky wannabe singer who just happens to be performing at the drag club he turns up at one evening looking for a drink.

This is Gaga, scrubbed free of the make-up, and channeling none of that provocative meat-dress persona. Her Ally is gloriously talented, but unconventional looking and lacking in confidence. Gaga’s chemistry with Cooper is undeniable; watching their characters fall in love is one of the film’s great joys. These are people we care about and their romance feels genuine.

Cooper is especially good as a sort of poet-in-rockstar-garb. He plays Jackson as a gin-soaked legend, a tortured artiste rescued by his music. This version of the film downplays the jealousy angle, introducing a conflict that feels more contemporary.

It’s true that the story’s beats are familiar, and like so many films set in the world of showbiz the rhythms of success and failure seem hurried and rushed. But the winning performance from the leads, and the memorable music they make together compensates for the predictable plotting. The two stars performed all the songs live, and good luck trying to get them out of your head, particularly Shallow, which I found myself humming until a few days after.

A Star is Born tells a story that many of us already know (especially those of us that have watched Aashiqui 2), but it does so in a manner and style that feels fresh and totally involving. Although it’s his first time in the director’s chair, Cooper reveals an assuredness while handling big scenes like the concert sequences, and also remarkable sensitivity in the more dramatic portions…like a scene between Jackson and his brother (you’ll know which one) that breaks your heart.

I’m going with three-and-a-half out of five for A Star is Born. This is a film about love and music and dreams, and it’ll make you feel all warm and fuzzy if you succumb to it.

(This review first aired on CNN News18)

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