A star direc­tor is born

Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga make sweet cine­matic music in clas­sic tale

The Herald Magazine - - Arts CINEMA - ALI­SON ROWAT

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

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