An expectation exceeding directorial debut for Bradley Cooper and an even better launch vehicle for Lady Gaga’s acting endeavours, A Star Is Born is an intoxicating cinematic ride from start to finish. Bolstered by outstanding performances & dynamic chemistry between its leads, enlivened by electric atmosphere & excellent musical numbers, and further uplifted by committed work from its entire cast n crew, the film is an all-round winner that easily ranks amongst this year’s finest offerings.
A remake of the 1937 film of the same name, A Star Is Born concerns a famous country singer privately battling an alcohol & drug addiction who discovers a young singer at a drag bar and helps bring her remarkable talent into the spotlight. The two begin to date afterwards but when her own music career sets off to a flying start and ultimately starts overshadowing his own, their relationship becomes strained and even her undying love & support is unable to prevent him from the destructive tendencies of his own demons.
Co-written & directed by Bradley Cooper, his first stint behind the camera is better than his entire career in front of it as the actor-turned-director exhibits a solid grip & terrific understanding of the mechanics required to translate a story from the script pages to silver screen, plus the sincerity & maturity with which he brings this latest retelling of a well-worn fable to cinematic life makes his version all the more alluring, refreshing & emotionally engrossing. In addition to that, Cooper also impresses with a stellar input as one of the leads.
Thanks to the extensively polished screenplay, the characters are believable, interesting & compelling and their meaty arcs are handled with such care & finesse that viewers are easily compelled to invest in their separate & collective journeys. There are two subplots intertwined & unfolding simultaneously in this feature; one is the downward spiral of an established singer while the other follows the swift rise of a newcomer, and the film as a whole derives its emotional beats from the conflicts & friction that keeps arising in their doomed romance.
Production design team manages to recreate the charged aura of concerts down to a tee and provides detailed, authentic settings throughout the film for the actors to build their acts upon. Cinematography livens up the images with its energetic camerawork, varying colour tones & sharp lighting. The skilful editing keeps the characters at the forefront at all times, and exquisitely balances the elements of drama, romance & music by allowing them play out at their desired pace. Its 135 mins runtime isn’t bothersome but the story does slow down in the second half.
The soundtrack comes jam-packed with splendid songs that are performed by Lady Gaga & Bradley Cooper, and features numbers that contribute as much to the narrative as they are fascinating to listen to separately. Cooper astonishes all with his singing potential and embraces his role with nothing held back. Gaga’s singing prowess & gifted voice lifts each of her songs by infusing depth, heart & soul into them. However, her on-screen presence is so lifelike & grounded that during those song & dance numbers, it’s not the global pop sensation who we really cheer but the character she embodies.
Both Bradley Cooper & Lady Gaga help steer A Star Is Born past the finish line with their charismatic, magnetic & emotionally resonant renditions and their on-screen chemistry is intense, instant & invigorating. While Cooper delivers one of his finest performances that only gets better as plot progresses, Gaga is nothing less than an absolute revelation in her role and effortlessly steals the show with a powerfully gripping act that defies all expectations. There isn’t one hint of Gaga’s larger-than-life persona in her portrait as she brings her vulnerable character to life from the inside out. And also worthy of mention is Sam Elliot who leaves his own lasting mark in a supporting role.
On an overall scale, A Star Is Born is an amalgamation of brilliant direction, deft writing, kinetic camerawork, smart editing, fabulous soundtrack & admirable performances that scores high marks in all aspects of filmmaking to finish as one of the finest films of 2018. Bradley Cooper’s sophisticated execution, both in front & behind the camera, Lady Gaga’s revelatory performance that’s undeniably amongst this year’s strongest on-screen works, and the electrifying & spot-on chemistry the two share from the moment they are within the same frame results in a romantic drama that’s absorbing, entertaining & more than satisfying. A wonderful example of first-rate storytelling & quality filmmaking, A Star Is Born comes highly recommended.