Tuesday, 26 February 2019

A Star Is Born ★★★★★

Sometimes, the hype is real. I remember back in 2016 when La La Land first hit the big screen. I was absolutely adamant that I would hate it. The critics and audiences were all just sheep, I thought. It can’t be that good. I wanted to hate it. I smugly went to the cinema to see it so that I could justify my hatred for it with an understanding and knowledge of the film, rather than hate it entirely on principle. I loved it. I loved every minute of it. The hype was real, my friends. I had a similar experience with A Star Is Born.

Having learned from my mistakes with La La Land, I did not hate A Star Is Born before seeing it. I suspected it can’t possibly be as good as people are saying, though. Imagine my surprise when it blew me away. A Star Is Born was one of the best films of the year.

As this is the fourth remake of the 1937 original, I can’t imagine I need to go into too much detail regarding the plot – this adaptation takes the most from the 1976 version, following a hard-drinking and hard-living musician (Bradley Cooper) who discovers and falls in love with a young singer (Lady Gaga). As her career takes off, his falls apart. It’s a very universal story of fame, success and love – and certainly the most powerful adaptation yet. The film’s main selling points are the truly phenomenal performances from the two leads. Cooper, who also directs, is on never-better form as rockstar Jackson Maine, slurring and stumbling through the film with a tortured performance that really makes you feel for him even when he is at his worst. But the film belongs to Gaga, who shows us that she is far more than a quirky popstar. If Gaga doesn’t win the Best Actress Oscar this year, there is something incredibly wrong with the system. This is a powerhouse performance that easily stands up strong as the finest of the year.

But with a film like this (it is arguably a musical), the songs are pretty important too. The soundtrack has been in the charts since the film’s release and if you haven’t seen the film yet, you’ve certainly heard the music. “Shallow” in particular has been on the radio almost daily for the past few months, and you’ll probably be surprised to find that you know it word-for-word. But there are other (better) songs throughout the film – the opening number “Black Eyes” is a headbanging delight and “Always Remember Us This Way” is an incredible vehicle for Lady Gaga. While it’s no surprise that Gaga nails every song in the film, special mention should go to Cooper who has a far better voice than I think anyone expected.

But for those of you familiar with the story, you will know that this is not a happy film. Tissues are required in great abundance for the film’s final act, which will leave even the toughest brutes among you a blubbering wreck. This is an extremely powerful and heartbreaking film that will stay with you long after the credits roll, thanks to two staggering performances and a stunning soundtrack.
A Star Is Born is a masterpiece, deserving of the hype and your time. 

Sam Love

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