Written by Wayne Townsend
The third remake (forth for the more ardent movie buffs) of this love story is exceptional. It has all the elements that make going to the theater to see a film an event and not just something to do on a Saturday evening. It has excellent writing, great cinematography, heartfelt songs, and outstanding performances from its stars, Lady Gaga, and Bradley Cooper. Cooper is making his directorial debut, performed all his own singing. Being this talented and devastatingly handsome just isn’t fair for the rest of us, but it makes for an incredible film. For those of you who don’t know the gist or haven’t heard of Judy Garland (1st remake) or Barbra Streisand (2nd), at the heart of each rendition is a story of a tremendously talented woman who is discovered by a famous artist that uses his status and influence to rocket her to stardom, all the while fighting his own demons of alcoholism and drug abuse. His star falls as hers ascends. The woman remains loyal and refuses to listen to her handlers as he fades, just as he did for her when he was told the same. The steadfast love these characters have for one another is beautiful to experience and painful to watch as they are both affected by his losing struggle against addiction. Back to Gaga and Cooper, wow. The 1937 (Janet Gaynor) and 1954 (Garland) versions of the story has the film industry as the backdrop, while the Streisand version moves it over to the music industry. Cooper’s film borrows from this transition. He Plays Jackson Maine, a country/folk singing icon who gets recognized at a drag bar he stumbles into because the limo he’s in runs out of booze. He sees Gaga on stage as she is the only performer singing live during a lip sync competition. The attraction is instant, they talk after the show, and he discovers she writes her songs and he is hooked. The chemistry between the two of them is natural. They are two elements mixed together to form a new cocktail that blends well, and it is clear the sum becomes more significant than the individual parts. They complement each other, and their respective art forms are better for it. Almost all the original songs were written simultaneously with the writing of the script, and it shows. As each of them performs, the song sung reflects either the status of the respective careers or their love for each other. It’s in the later where the movie scores.
This film is a respite of movies that show the conflict between a couple as betrayal, mistrust, or any other overtly negative theme used to drive the story forward. This movie is about two people that love each other in a battle to overcome a self-inflicted illness. Even when they fight you can see the care taken by each of them not to injure the other, but the frustration of not having your partner hear you and the anger that stems from it. Some of the things Cooper says are constructive, but since he’s drunk at the time they fall on deaf ears. Gaga grows increasing frustrated as Cooper’s drinking becomes dangerously self-destructive but knows his most heartfelt writings comes from the dark place only the bottom of a bottle let him get to. Addiction aside, these types of marital conflicts strike a chord with anyone who has ever had a real relationship.
Sam Elliot gives the best performance in years as Cooper’s older brother Bobby Maine who has been caretaker his entire life due to the fact their abusive father drank himself to death. Again, the love and frustrated love between siblings is captured in a real way. A Star is Born easily the best film I’ve seen this year, and if anything, I’ve written resonates with you, you’ll agree. 4 1/5 out of 5.