A star director is born
Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga make sweet cinematic music in classic tale
THIS is at least the fifth version of a story – star helps newcomer achieve fame – that is as old as the Hollywood sign. It has been told and retold by such talents as Judy Garland, James Mason, Barbra Streisand and Kris Kristofferson. On the writing front, Joan Didion and Dorothy Parker, no less, have worked on the various screenplays.
To choose A Star is Born for your directorial debut, therefore, is a bit like saying you would like a crack at remaking The Godfather. It is a huge risk but I’m very glad Bradley Cooper took it. While the Judy Garland picture of 1954 remains the gold standard, this is wonderful.
The music is terrific, the performances first class and, best of all, an acting star is born in Lady Gaga, who plays Ally, the ingenue to ageing guitar man Jackson Maine (Cooper, doing all his own musical stunts).
Post-gig and in search of a bar one night, Jackson stumbles across a place where Ally is singing. She once dreamed of making it in the music business, only to be told that her looks, her nose in particular, did not fit.
Jackson likes the look of Ally just fine, but it is her voice that brings tears to his eyes. While the booze he has downed could explain his weepy ways, a connection is made. Off the two go to talk about music, the past and, yes, her nose. Such is the spark between them that his jokingly running a finger down her nose is electrifying.
“You are a sweetheart,” says Ally, and he is. Bearded and scruffy, his face gleaming with sweat and booze, Jackson has left attractively grizzled behind and is heading straight for addled. When the night ends with his brother (Sam Elliott) putting him to bed, all the signs are there that this man, who seems to have everything, is a deeply troubled soul.
During Ally and Jackson’s evening together, the screenplay by Oscar-winning Eric Roth (Forrest Gump), Cooper and Will Fetters delivers the first of several riffs on talent. Anyone can have it, says Jackson; the difference between good and great