Much to unpack about the latest remake of 1937’s A Star is Born. The story itself will be familiar even if one has never seen the original or its subsequent two remakes.
And it’s a simple plot. Jackson Maine (Bradley Cooper) is a rock star who meets Ally (Lady Gaga), a struggling singer-songwriter. They fall in love and Maine is instrumental in Ally’s rise as a new pop star. But then things go wrong with tragic results.
But it is the way that first-time director Cooper tells this basic story that resonates strongly. Told in an impressionistic episodic manner – sometimes without clear beginnings or endings – the plot is very much left to simmer in the viewer’s mind.
Cooper never overstates the narrative and trusts the audience to be intelligent enough to fill in the blanks. Also, he trusts his actors – the dynamic Lady Gaga, the assured Sam Elliot and himself – to bring those beats and moments to life.
With music being the central theme, the live concert performances sound so realistic and the audience is put on stage with the performers where nothing actually feels “staged”!
The songs are immaculately delivered by Lady Gaga – naturally – and an impressive Cooper as well. Much of the music – before Ally is signed by the producer Rez (Ravi Gavron) – is of the classic old-school variety and comes across like a ’70s throwback!
But the music changes to a more contemporary style and it feels like Ally loses part of her soul and the relationship hits the skids, driving Maine’s demons back to the surface.
Almost feels like a spot-on commentary on the state of the (soulless) modern music scene and it’s hard not to pick up on the parallels.
Maine’s problems are part and parcel of the rock lifestyle even as he slowly becomes obsolete when compared to Ally’s pop relevance.
Thus, that dichotomy between them has greater relevance than it did in the ’70s remake with Barbara Streisand and Kris Kristofferson.
Ultimately it is the chemistry between its powerful leads that is going to enrapture audiences of every ilk. The pull and push of a doomed relationship that never fails to enthral.
By the time one reaches its conclusion, there will not be a dry eye in the house. An instant classic!
… still there’s more …