A Star Is Born

October, 2018, Drama

A Star Is Born

We’ve met these star-crossed lovers twice before; Judy Garland and James Mason first introduced us to them in 1954 while Barbra Streistand and Kris Kristofferson brought them back to the screen 22 years later. Now Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga take the spotlight, but the storyline remains the same - - only the musical soundtracks and social milieus have changed.

And  wouldn’t you know it? Third time's a charm.

In this outing, Bradley Cooper plays Jack, a country & western singer/songwriter in the early stages of alcoholism, hearing loss and tinnitus. When he stumbles into a transvestite bar after finishing a concert, he witnesses a vampish but stunning performance of "La Vie en Rose"by Ally, a young singer with self-imposed probuscus issues played by Lady Gaga,as  an awkward, shy woman in her late twenties who's convinced herself she's not attractive enough to perform successfully. Jack disagrees and lures her on stage at his next concert, thus igniting an artistic and romatice fire between the aging, already over-the-hill star and the needy but dynamically talented younger woman enchanted by his gentle insistence that she possesses a very significant talen

 She bursts onto the popular music scene, he turns increasingly to booze and various white powders to disguise his own decline. They marry and Jack seeks professional help but his public behavior embarrasses Ally - - all of which leads to a climax as sad as it is predictable.

 Despite the movie’s frequent descent into bathos, Cooper’s quiet, genial performance and accomplished directorial skills are a pitch-perfect balance with the soaring emotions Gaga evokes in her presention of the soundtrack’s ballads. Her dazzling renditions allow the musical score tp provide intricate keys to the storyline, giving Gaga’s soaring voice undeniable operatic quality and intensity.

 Sam Elliott delivers another of his laconically intense performances as Jack’s older, envious brother, while the rarely seen Andrew Dice Clay steals every scene he’s in as Ally’s star-struck father. But those plaudits struggle alongside a host of mawkish clichés; an adoring dog, the frenzy of Ally’s old friends basking in the glow of her fame, the venal music producer/agent striving to take Jack’s place in planning Ally’s career movies, the overused group therapy session that signals Jack’s stint in rehab and of course his self-destructive denouement.

 That said, Cooper’s injects freshness and credibility into an over-worn storyline , making this a highly successful and satisfying  example of old-fashioned Hollywood moviemaking introduced two years ago by LaLaLand – and Cooper’s efforts here easily surpass that film as well as its own two predecessors.

 The Verdict? Superior production values, attractive performances and Gaga’s soaring voice make for an Oscar contender. See it and remember what Hollywood movies used to be like.

 

 

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