We now have the fourth making of a film based on the premise we find in A Star is Born— and doing such a thing is exceedingly difficult because the comparisons are inevitable. The first iteration of this film had a different name and emerged in the 1930s with Janet Gaynor. The second iteration in the 50s should have had more success— Judy Garland was an absolute star in the film and was robbed of a Oscar. The third attempt at ‘A Star is Born’ certainly had star power with Kris Kristofferson and Barbara Streisand, but actually the film was lackluster, and other than Barbara singing ‘Evergreen’ it wasn’t much to write home about. In the case of Barbara, who famously has had terrible stage fright, she was playing according to type. Not Gaga, the very definition of an extrovert exhibitionist.
In this case… they’ve saved the best for last, because the acting, the editing, the producing, the singing the new song writing is very good indeed. Bradley Cooper’s ‘I can do it all’ film (singing, playing, writing songs, directing debut, producing) is a winner. Another obstacle this film had to overcome is probably anyone over the age of 40 didn’t need any spoiler alerts— we all know how this film goes down. It is the story of a worn out alcoholic country rock star on the decline, discovering a young female singer songwriter whom the film chronicles as a rising star. It’s like ships passing in the night, only these two become love boats, even get married. I commend the soundtrack to this film— it’s top notch.As for the acting, all the major role players are excellent— Lady Gaga, Bradley Cooper, Sam Elliot (as the much older brother and manager of Jackson Maine, the star), Andrew Dice Clay as Gaga’s ambitious father, and Dave Chapelle as an old friend. The film is 135 minutes long, and there are a few places where the film drags. It could have used a little more editing, maybe ten minutes less then it would be tight. There is also lots of blue language in the film (particularly the all too frequent appearance of the F word) and one partial nudity scene. This is not a family film, nor a film for younger children, but as a half romance half tragedy, it is in various ways well worth seeing.
There is a line in one of the songs about living in a shallow time, that has rightly produced a good deal of buzz, because its true. There is too much posing, too much fake news, too much outright lying by public figures. As Jackson says, we have to tell the truth, and sing from the heart if we hope to make any impact in this world. These characters, with all their flaws, have genuineness to them and poignancy that you see too few times in the movies. I suspect the Academy will look seriously at this film, come Oscar time. Fame, however is not merely a fickle mistress…. she is an unfaithful one.