Sun | Nov 18, 2018

'A Star is Born' glows with art, heart

Published:Monday | October 22, 2018 | 12:00 AMDamian Levy/Gleaner Writer
Academy Award nominee Bradley Cooper and Grammy winner Lady Gaga in 'A Star is Born'.

At the beginning of A Star Is Born, you're swept up in the life of a rock star. The blinding lights, oppressive speakers, mob-like crowd. Bradley Cooper takes the stage as Jackson Maine, and it's clear that, despite the toll it takes, nothing compares to being a star. Then, the movie switches gears and shows you the quiet, desperate life of Lady Gaga's Ally, a waitress yearning to have her voice heard by millions.

The movie does such a good job of establishing these characters that even if you've never wanted fame for yourself, you can't help but understand why it's so important to them. When the two meet, it sets them off in a whirlwind romance that ultimately has the young Ally thrust into stardom with the help of Jack, the megastar who believed in her.

The performances alone make the movie worth watching - musically and otherwise. If you're not moved by the moments the movie builds on stage, consult a cardiologist immediately as you may be missing a heart. More than anything, the film does a good job at convincing you of the love story between the two leads - so much so that when things start to turn sour, it's gutting.

For a directorial debut, Bradley Cooper has one for the books. The movie has some truly inspired shots that were, honestly, unexpected for a remake of a remake. There's a real sense of purpose to how the movie is filmed. Even the way simple dialogue is filmed is done extremely well and suggests more than the words alone could tell.

I fear he'll be overshadowed by everything else in the film, but Sam Elliott really does a tremendous job. Fittingly, he plays Jack's older brother, who never made it quite as big as his younger sibling. His scenes were by far the most compelling, and whenever the film's two-hour-and-16-minute runtime became daunting, his presence would revitalise my interest.

Not everyone will like A Star Is Born. It's very long, quite sombre, and is a story that has literally been told over and over again. Still, I think the film is as good as a modern retelling can get - better, even, given that Cooper brings out the big guns with his intimate and purposeful directorial style.

Rating: Big-Screen Watch