In his directorial debut, Bradley Cooper has created an incredibly powerful, raw and emotional piece. In the most positive way possible, this is 2018’s La La Land…and might even be better than it.
The third remake of the 1937 original, A Star is Born tells the story of Ally (Lady Gaga) who meets veteran rock star Jackson (Bradley Cooper). He becomes her mentor and lover as she is slowly discovered by the world, while he struggles with addictions and depression. The performances in this film from the two are utterly phenomenal. Their emotions are raw and visceral, their singing off the scale. Award nominations should be flying their way.
Cooper’s direction is unbelievably confident for a debut feature. His sense of tone, emotion, humour and tragedy are masterful, and in some respects, the real star being born is Bradley Cooper, Director. The cinematography from Matthew Libatique is beautiful and naturalistic. His use of light and shadow is wonderful and creates a very real setting for the story to play out. The story is a powerful affair, and gives a real insight into the rise and fall of fame and the pain that could come with it. It is an emotional ride with many teary moments, and by the end you will be reduced to a blubbering mess.
One thing that can’t be overlooked is the music and songs in the film. The core songs are country rock in genre, but slowly the songs become more popular and modern. It is interesting to see the slow change and evolution of Lady Gaga’s musical style play out across the film, and her role in it felt wonderfully self-referential. To repeat earlier remarks, her performance is utterly breathtaking, and she really benefits from being able to show herself both as a real person and also as huge popstar.
This film is a genuine masterclass in direction and use of emotion. It is raw, real and powerful film that sports two of the best performances of this year.