✰✰✰✰✰ (out of five)
Synopsis: Seasoned musician Jackson Maine (Bradley Cooper) discovers -- and falls in love with -- struggling artist Ally (Lady Gaga). She has just about given up on her dream to make it big as a singer until Jackson coaxes her into the spotlight. But even as Ally's career takes off, the personal side of their relationship is breaking down, as Jackson fights an ongoing battle with his own internal demons.
Review: "Look, talent comes everywhere, but having something to say and a way to say it so that people listen to it, that's a whole other bag. And unless you get out and you try to do it, you'll never know."
Cooper's Jackson tells Gaga's Ally this early on in a very telling scene of the latest (and 4th) version of "A Star is Born." Much of the scene has Gaga using (my guess) real-life experiences to describe her start in music and what dictated her physical appearance. A second viewing highlighted the above quote as something very much in Cooper's court. Instead of being typecast after those dreadful "Hangover" movies (yeah, I said it), he went out to prove his worth as an actor. A few Oscar nominations later, and he is now primed (along with many of the film's collaborators) to purchase a new, empty bookcase for all the hardware he will be collecting this awards season.
This type of movie is not one I would gravitate or make my way to be a must-see priority. I know of only one musical that I actually thoroughly liked a lot ("My Fair Lady," for those tracking at home). And I'm not a super big music guy, let alone a style music me not liking. But "A Star is Born" clicked on every level for me--acting, directing, cinematography, and (especially notable for em) editing. Top to bottom, this is a perfect film. The music is just a facade. You can take the base core of the story and apply it to actors, stock brokers, lawyers, doctors, politicians--the profession is inconsequential. A star is going to fade and die. Despite whatever outside forces, including a new and growing star can fuel and extend the dying star's life, but it's end is inevitable. This is the core of "A Star is Born."
And the music is good. REALLY good. Again, I am not a music person, but the songs are dynamite, especially "Shallow"--which has been embedded and replayed in my head since I first saw the film.
Cooper really did have something to say: he can act and direct. Gaga is a true natural when it comes to acting as well. You can definitely sense herself inserted into some of those scenes, but that only adds to the drama and reliability. The chemistry between the two is not only palpable but undeniably real: Gaga was Cooper's muse during this whole process. Dave Chapelle shows up for 5-10 minutes, and amazing. Even Andrew Dice Clay as Ally's father is unbelievable. And while the two leads are the main anchors, the most praise is heaped onto the great Sam Elliott. Deep feeling and emotion radiates from every word, breath and range of expressions. Elliott makes the entire film seem effortless. Can we just save the time and award his Best Supporting Actor now?
And several other categories, too?
✰✰✰✰✰ (out of five)