Re­make hits all the right notes

Rutherglen Reformer - - Review -

A Star Is Born (15) Mu­si­cal drama A Star is Born gets a fourth cin­e­matic treat­ment and ar­rives on the crest of a glow­ing re­views and Os­car buzz wave.

While my mum is a mas­sive fan of the pre­vi­ous in­car­na­tion – the 1976 ver­sion star­ring Bar­bra Streisand and Kris Kristof­fer­son – I am com­ing into this world of a mu­si­cian on the de­cline help­ing a young singer and ac­tress find fame blind hav­ing never seen any of the other flicks.

Per­haps that’s a good thing as I had noth­ing to com­pare this to and could only judge the film on its own mer­its – and A Star is Born 2018 makes for a grip­ping, su­perbly-acted ex­pe­ri­ence.

Bradley Cooper stars as ag­ing singer Jack­son Maine, co-wrote the script with Eric Roth (Mu­nich, Ali) and Will Fet­ters (The Lucky One) and, as if that wasn’t enough, also makes his di­rec­to­rial de­but.

It’s a hell of a lot to take on, but the 43-yearold proves more than up for the chal­lenge, show­ing a sure hand be­hind the cam­era that de­fies his in­ex­pe­ri­ence in the field.

One of the best de­ci­sions he made was to shoot mu­si­cal per­for­mances dur­ing ac­tual fes­ti­vals Glas­ton­bury and Coachella; this lends the sets cred­i­bil­ity, re­al­ism and the type of raw, gen­uine crowd re­ac­tions that are nigh-on-im­pos­si­ble to repli­cate.

There’s a near-doc­u­men­tary feel to much of Cooper’s film­mak­ing which suits the story and sub­ject mat­ter ex­tremely well.

Cooper has al­ways been a ta­lented ac­tor and has clev­erly moved away from the com­edy trap­pings he risked be­ing type­cast in fol­low­ing his Han­gover tril­ogy and Wed­ding Crash­ers turns.

It’s hard to say this is his finest per­for­mance yet as his work in Sil­ver Lin­ings Play­book and Amer­i­can Sniper was also top-notch, but Cooper strongly con­vinces as a trou­bled singer try­ing des­per­ately to cling on to his ca­reer while fall­ing for his pro­tégé.

How­ever, this re­make’s true rev­e­la­tion is Lady Gaga as un­tapped tal­ent Ally. The re­al­life mu­si­cian has turned her hand to act­ing be­fore with cameos in Sin City: A Dame to Kill For and Ma­chete Kills and re­cur­ring roles in TV’s Amer­i­can Hor­ror Story but this is her big com­ing-out-party.

She earns her place at the act­ing ta­ble with a fan­tas­tic per­for­mance rife with soul, pas­sion, frus­tra­tion and heart; and her chem­istry with Cooper, both on the mi­cro­phone and off-stage, is off-the-charts.

What pre­vents A Star is Born from reach­ing num­ber one, though, is fa­mil­iar story beats seen in true-life and fic­tional mu­si­cal biopics like Walk the Line and Crazy Heart.

Cooper could also have done with get­ting a firmer grip on his edit­ing team as his flick drags for much of its sec­ond half.

Quib­bles are mi­nor, then, and over­all this re­make hits the high notes and cre­ates new su­per­stars be­hind and in front of the cam­era in Cooper and Gaga.

On-song Lady Gaga and Cooper make for a fine dou­ble act

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