Yes, “A Star is Born” has been done before, but there are always filmmakers who want to bring their own interpretation to the screen. A colleague of mine pointed out that this story has been told at least four times since the storyline debuted as the feature film “What Price Hollywood?” in 1932.
This time, it is actor Bradley Cooper (“The Hangover”) who brought his distinct vision to the screen. As a filmmaker, Cooper does a competent job of filming two mismatched souls, portrayed by Lady Gaga and himself whose lives intertwine via songs and words.
Lady Gaga gives an emotional and believable performance as Ally, a woman who does not like her own nose. Gaga made her big-screen credited debut in Robert Rodriguez’s “Machete Kills” in 2013 as a character simply known as La Camaleón. It was nothing special, just a way of introducing her to Hollywood.
In “A Star is Born,” her character flourishes and gains notoriety and popularity, as well as a billboard in Hollywood that even shows off her nose. Meanwhile, her better half, Cooper’s Jack, does his best to stay afloat and keep his head above water. His popularity has wavered in recent months while her following has increased in popularity.
This film gets major points since it made me cry. It strikes just the right emotional chord with my being. It was not only the presentation, but the way Cooper told the story.
Cooper, along with Oscar-winning writer Eric Roth (“Forrest Gump”) wrote a tale that mesmerizes from the word go. The chemistry between Cooper and Lady Gaga works, since the duo share a natural attraction and connection.
Cooper knows when to turn on the nuances and emotion in telling this dramatic story that might have taken the hokum train if he hadn’t been sure of where he wanted to steer the story.
Cooper’s “A Star is Born” marks the fifth time this tale has been told as a feature film. Besides the aforementioned “What Price Hollywood?” this story was also told in 1937’s “A Star is Born” with Janet Gaynor and Fredric March. The 1954 George Cukor version starred Judy Garland and James Mason. The 1976 version teamed up Barbra Streisand and Kris Kristofferson and won an Oscar for best song, “Evergreen,” which Streisand sang.
I know this one has already reached the over-praised level, but I just thought the film was solid and well-told. Sam Elliott has some great screen time as Cooper’s brother Bobby. The duo lost both of their parents earlier in their lives, so their kinship is important to the storyline. It was also cool to see the usually obnoxious Andrew “Dice” Clay as Lorenzo, Ally’s father. Elliott and Clay fill out the cast nicely by adding to the dynamics of the story.
Also subtly effective in his small part is comedian Dave Chappelle as George. He befriends Jack when he finds him passed out on his front lawn in Los Angeles. Chappelle was great in Nora Ephron’s “You’ve Got Mail” and the juvenile “Screwed.”
I am pretty good when it comes to predictions, so I expect Lady Gaga’s name to be in the forefront of this year’s Oscar race. She really is that amazing and gives an Oscar-worthy performance.