Wednesday, 17 October 2018

A Star Is Born: Film Review

A Star Is Born: Film Review

Cast: Bradley Cooper, Lady Gaga, Sam Elliott, Andrew Dice Clay
Director: Bradley Cooper

In truth, A Star Is Born's fourth iteration doesn't mess with the formula of those that have gone before it.
A Star Is Born: Film Review

While Bradley Cooper's directorial turn sees him framing Lady Gaga close up and letting her stripped back voice do the soaring, much of A Star Is Born makes for queasy viewing in a post MeToo world.
Cooper is Jackson Maine, a hard-drinking pill-popping long time veteran of the music scene, a MOR artist destined to fill stadiums, but whose love for the job is dwindling as his tinnitus grows ever stronger.

One night, after a concert, Maine stops off at a drag bar looking for his next booze fix, and is wowed by the on-stage performance of Ally (Gaga) who burns the stage down with her version of La Vie En Rose.

Swooping in on her, Maine nurtures an attraction, and believes he sees a kindred spirit in Ally, whose self-destruction is at the cost of belief in herself as a singer / performer. However, with a bit of coaching and some throwing under the bus, Ally begins to blossom, as Maine's career and star begins to fall.
A Star Is Born: Film Review

Billed as a romance, and try as one might, the overriding feeling of A Star Is Born leaves a queasy feeling it's more about domestic and emotional abuse than a star-crossed romance. And an icky one about male-fuelled control as well, given how Ally is moulded by both Maine, the music industry and a controlling manager.

While the concert scenes are incredible and Cooper manages to inject some spine-tingling touches into their exuberant execution, the fairytale side of A Star Is Born feels blessed with some corny dialogue that is fudged in the exposition.

Still, it's already proven that this is what audiences lap up, and while the unevenness of events hits the film's second half, Lady Gaga's Ally truly shines when the screen needs it the most.

It's clear Cooper as the director is in love with Gaga's voice and physique, framing her in close ups and excluding others in the handheld execution, touches which enhance the sheer power of her voice.

In truth she delivers a competent performance as Ally, from wide-eyed innocent to blossoming talent to troubled wife, Gaga delivers more of a gamut and arc than Cooper's Maine does.

Solid support comes from Elliott who appears in a clutch of scenes as Maine's brother, and delivers more than his keeper-of-the-demons-at-the-door role would have you invest in.
A Star Is Born: Film Review

A Star Is Born is a little too overlong and indulgent to fully succeed in the romance stakes - it does bless us with a cinematic talent that's already been nurtured in American Horror Story.

But to be honest, the over-riding uneasy feeling of control, abuse and male power, along with talk of how this will be showered with Oscars sits at odds with a world one year after MeToo was born.

It may not have been Cooper's intention and audiences may be lapping this up as a star-crossed romance for our times, but A Star Is Born is an odd experience, part concert tour footage and part blast from the past promotion of male privilege.

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