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Review: A Star is Born

October 28, 2018
A Star is Born

This week’s review is all about Lady Gaga, Bradley Cooper, a lot of singing and a very photogenic dog. Let’s take a look at A Star is Born.

Why now?

A Star is Born was released on October 5 and is in cinemas now – catch it while you can!

In a nutshell

Jackson Maine (Cooper) is a famous country singer with a severe alcohol and drug addiction. After a show in California, he stumbles across Ally (Gaga) performing at a drag bar. Blown away by her talent, Jackson invites her into his world in the music industry, where she quickly rises to fame as the two become romantically involved.

Who’s it for?

Anyone who’s a fan of music, Lady Gaga, or well-made movies should prioritise this one. It’s rated 15 in the UK – there’s fairly mild language and drug use, as well as some sexual scenes and brief nudity, so I wouldn’t advise bringing kids along. But for a 15 in today’s market, it’s pretty tame.

Who’s in it?

A Star is Born has a strong supporting cast (including Sam Elliot and his glorious moustache, which deserves a credit of its own) and features a few nice little cameos, but this is all about Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga.

I can’t emphasise strongly enough how incredible these two lead actors are together in this film. Their chemistry is off the scale and their individual acting throughout the movie is of the highest quality.

I’ll admit that, before watching it, I wasn’t overly fussed on seeing Lady Gaga in a romantic drama featuring lots of country music. But her performance forced me to eat my words, my hat, my arm…anything that was remotely edible, in fact. She is unbelievable in this film, both in terms of her acting and, of course, her singing. The first time she truly breaks out the full power of her voice on stage in the movie, your jaw will hit the floor.

The same can be said of Bradley Cooper, whose own musical talents are on full display here. The opening scene, which features his character Jackson on stage, is absolutely electric, pulsating with energy and pounding rhythm. And as the more seasoned actor, his performance is impeccable.

Oh, and did I mention he directed it, too?

The good stuff

There’s very little to say about A Star is Born that isn’t good. It has a great (albeit rehashed) storyline, excellent acting, and is technically superb in terms of direction, cinematography and editing – all credit to Cooper, really.

For me, it felt like Lady Gaga set aside her controversial, OTT musical image and fully embraced her status as a genuine Hollywood actress – she’s almost unrecognisable in the opening scenes, though she becomes more Gaga-ish as the film progresses. I was pleasantly surprised/shocked by how good she was.

The film also features an extremely photogenic dog that stole a couple of key scenes – I found out afterwards that he actually belongs to Bradley Cooper in real life, too!

The not so good stuff

I struggled to fill this section this time. Unless you don’t like films about the music industry or you’re not into romance (or heavy subject matter like addiction and strained marriages), then you may not enjoy this movie. It’s also very emotional towards the end and quite a few people in our cinema screening were bawling in the final act. But if you can handle those things, you won’t have a problem.

The bottom line

A Star is Born is one of the best films I’ve seen in a long time. I tend to be very positive about most of the movies I see, but this one really knocked it out of the park. I would be flabbergasted if it doesn’t win (never mind be nominated for) Oscars in February.

Go see it now, and be prepared for something that sticks with you long after viewing.

Verdict: (5 / 5)

David McIlroy
Freelance writer/contributor based in Northern Ireland. Degrees in English, Film and Youth Work. Married to the beautiful Christine. My main things: God, family, movies, reading, and Liverpool FC.

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