Does A Star Is Born sing loud enough for The Academy to hear?

Bradley Cooper’s directorial debut, in which he stars with real-life pop queen Lady Gaga, is pure Hollywood magic. A Star Is Born allows you can sink into brilliant musical performances, romance and sizzling chemistry between it’s two A-list headline cast.

The film is the fourth bearing this title that tells the tale of one rising star while one is flickering out. In 2018, although it pays homage to previous versions, it feels fresh and modern and is a movie that is plenty meaty enough to grace the big screen once again in both its cinematic appeal and in its performances.

Cooper plays Jackson Maine a very successful but lonely musician who relies on substances and alcohol for company rather than people. When he stumbles upon a young singer, Ally Campana, performing in a drag bar the attraction for both her and her vocal talent is obvious. The screen immediately starts to steam when both musicians meet and before too long they’re in a bar then onto the bedroom.

Although she’s had some ambition to gain success as a singer and songwriter, it takes Jackson to pull her somewhat reluctantly onstage to rock everyone’s socks off. A star is born! It’s an emotional moment when both our lead actors first appear on stage together and the waterfalls of tears just kept tumbling from there on in.

But, along with great talent comes the great PR machine and that means compromising image and style to adhere to industry pressures and sell records. Can this love story formed alongside their shared admiration of each other’s musical talents survive amongst one career beginning to shine while the other slowly dims?

Bradley Cooper has done a fantastic job depicting the excitement of the live musical performances here, even shooting one of them at the legendary Glastonbury Festival. He also captures the intimacy of falling in love as well as the devastating effects of alcoholism and addiction. As an actor, his performance brilliantly depicts Jackson’s pain, vulnerability, deep sorrow and his almost unbearable amount of love for Ally. He’s a very well formed character whose story is told with sincerity and sensitivity. Oh, and I better not forget about that voice. He sounds brilliant. A gravelly worn heart and soul type of voice that compliments young Ally’s cleaner, fresher more pop-friendly sound perfectly.

With two huge A-listers headlining this film it’s somewhat expected that they would both give very noteworthy performances but, if I had to choose a favourite then It’s got to be our Gaga. Vocally she’s phenomenal as expected but she shows more than just musical talent with emotional depth to her character way beyond my expectations. She’s so natural and authentic as Ally. I am sure that word has been used to death when describing her performance in this movie but she really does just feel very real on screen.  She’s a natural performer, we know this, but as an actress, she’s not afraid to bare all with raw emotion that sees her appear on the big screen as an instantly iconic actress. Likeable, relatable and hugely charismatic.

The soundtrack delivers belters above and beyond expectations too with instant classics popping up every other scene. You feel like on the second watch you’d defo be singing along like they were old favourites. Standouts for me where the beautiful ballads Maybe It’s Time performed by Cooper and duet Shallow. Lady Gaga fully rears her goddess head in the performance of Always Remember Us This Way. And grab the tissues for I’ll Never Love Again at the film’s finale.

From the supporting cast, Andrew Dice Clay as Lorenzo Campana, Ally’s father is entertaining, loveable and again real in his interactions with the core characters. Cooper’s Jackson is supported on screen by the legendary voice, which is also attached to a legendary tash, which is also attached to legendary actor Sam Elliot whose screen time is always memorable and adds gravitas with every scene.

For a great cinematic love story look no further than A Star Is Born. Infatuation to heartbreak, you’ll have to deal with many emotions watching this film but mostly it’ll be admiration for Cooper’s passion project that’s more than paid off. Clear some space on the mantlepiece at the Cooper house as there’s sure to be some Oscar nods for this one.

Reviewed by Ingrid Grenar.

5 stars small