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Review: A Star is Born (2018)

Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga star in Warner Bros. Pictures' A STAR IS BORN

It seems like every year, there’s at least one or two movies that get released and becomes a hit in just about everyone’s eyes. In 2018, A Star is Born is one of those movies as it is likely to bring out a lot of emotions from viewers in a way that’s seemingly natural. Whether people like it or love it depends on the kind of films you usually like, but I can’t see too many people not liking it. It’s because of this, that I can see this being something that will make you laugh, feel connected to the characters and maybe even shedding a tear or two before it’s over.

In this updated take of a tragic love story, Bradley Cooper stars as Jackson Maine, a popular musician who discovers and falls in love with Ally (Lady Gaga), a struggling artist. Up until this point in her life, the young singer doesn’t see her future as being filled with too many more opportunities and has been considering giving up on her dreams until Maine steps in and encourages her to continue. What this leads to is a heartfelt story about two people’s love for one another, love for their craft, and all of the emotions that come along with it.

The run time of A Star is Born made me nervous at first since these movies can “overstay their welcome” and potentially ruin a good thing. Just by looking at its two hours and seventeen minutes of run time, you knew that was a possibility, but it doesn’t suffer like I figured it could. Part of the reason why this doesn’t happen is because the story moves fairly quickly at times and heads directly into what we are expecting to see. There could have been a long build up during the first act, but we’re swiftly introduced to the people we need to know and are asked to follow them on this journey just as quickly.

While this is a positive, there is a period where things kind of slow down a bit in the middle. This whirlwind romance and rush to stardom during the first act is immersive and well-developed in spite of its speed. Everything that we get during this portion if the film is engaging and makes you feel as if you’re a part of the experience. Whether it’s the interactions between the characters or the performances we get when the musicians are on stage, it you feel it and are able to lose yourself in it.

While this portion of A Star is Born is unquestionably well done, the second act has a hard time keeping up with that pace. A part of this is due to the tonal shifts and the fact that the upbeat feeling cannot be sustained. That’s primarily because the film decides to shift its focus onto the side of fame that we are beginning to see more and more of thanks to social media and gossip sites these days. It doesn’t really get as graphic as it could have, but the tone changes, the movie slows down, and A Star is Born is unable to recapture what it lost from the opening act.

This isn’t to say that what comes after the first act isn’t of good quality. It’s just that it removes some of the joy that was there watching Lady Gaga’s Ally find love while taking her dreams of singing to a level that seemed out of reach. As far as her work in the role is concerned, that never falters either. She’s good from start to finish and puts consistent energy into her performance. That truly shows itself when she puts her musical talents on display. Whenever she gets behind a mic or a piano, there’s an organic feel to what she’s doing even though she isn’t always playing her style of music.

Her cast mate and director of the film, Bradley Cooper also puts on a strong display when it comes to acting, singing, and playing around with his given instrument. There’s clearly some preparation on his part as well since he’s not the musical talent that Lady Gaga is, but he showed enough class as an actor to look and sound like “the real deal” here. With his role, he predictably provides most of the depth and nuance throughout the movie. Together, these two work well together and combine to use their strengths in a way that allows A Star is Born to captivate its viewers.

In spite of the tonal shift that causes it to slow a bit in the second act, A Star is Born has all of the markings of a movie that audiences will love. From the acting, the music, the unusual cameos, and even the cinematography, there’s so much to  admire and find appealing here. And although it’s a remake that’s been done two or three times already, it’s wise enough to remain modern as it’s retold for a new generation. In my opinion, if you’re going to remake a movie, you should at least consider taking this route in order to do it.

Rating: R

Director: Bradley Cooper

Bradley Cooper
Lady Gaga
Andrew Dice Clay
Dave Chappelle
Sam Elliott

Film Length: 136 minutes

Release Date: October 5, 2018

Distributor: Warner Bros. Pictures

  • Score - 7/10
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