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Movie Review

A Star is Born review – Cooper and Gaga soar in spellbinding reboot

Bradley Cooper's directorial debut is a triumph whilst Lady Gaga does more than fill Barbra Streisand's shoes

A Star is Born

The last time Warner Bros. Pictures adapted A Star is Born to the silver screen was in 1976. So when Warner Bros. Pictures announced in 2015 that a reboot was in production, and the rumours of Bradley Cooper being set to direct and star alongside Lady Gaga came true, I, along with many fans of the musical, expressed excitement toward the news. We envisioned how successful the modern twist on the romantic musical would be, but we had to wait until 2018 to find out. Now that it has finally been released, will it live up to our expectations and rival the original 1937 film and its successors?

The film focuses on a country singer, Jackson Maine (Cooper) who struggles with his addiction to drugs and alcohol. Maine meets waitress Ally (Gaga) in a gay bar and hears about her struggle to pursue a career in music. Once he hears her impeccable voice, the rest becomes history.

Paradoxically, this story is heart-warming, yet heart-breaking. The struggles the underdog, Ally, faces throughout the film are gruelling. Yet, she is a resilient character who eventually overcomes her conflicts and achieves the career she dreams of. A highlight from the film was her tribute act at the end. It showed how far she had come within her musical career, and as such, her story was cemented as an inspiring one.

The leads shared an amazing chemistry; they were not only business partners, but companions and lovers. Their relationship reflects real life relationships – they fight occasionally, but they always reconcile. A refreshing change from the ‘happy couples’ narrative from other musicals. Alongside the main duo there is a memorable supporting cast, with Dave Chappelle and Sam Elliott offering strong moral support to the struggling Jackson Maine. Elliott and Cooper displayed a lovable brotherly bond as the Maine siblings, an uplifting arc, detracting sweetly from the tragic elements from the story. There is a blink-and-you-miss-it cameo from the singer, Halsey, and from the actor, Alec Baldwin.

Although the story is as dark as its predecessors, it has plenty of humorous moments and an authentic story focusing on the underbelly of showbiz. Controversial topics, such as suicide, drugs and alcoholism are placed in the spotlight.

The soundtrack is the film’s most memorable part. It is a varied soundtrack, focusing on contrasting genres such as country music and pop. Gaga’s singing rivals Gaynor, Garland and Streisand’s from the previous films. Her duet with Cooper is the crowning moment; their musicality shone through the duet. The songs were meaningful and thought provoking. Even more so than the ones from the previous films. The songs mirror the characters’ conflicts within the story: ‘Heal Me’ signifies Ally’s transition from country music to pop, after signing a record deal. ‘Why Did You Do That?’ symbolises the couple’s confusion over their actions after their dispute. Singing unveils the dilemmas they face, helping them resolve the problems, cleverly subverting the musical cliches.

Conclusively, this film is a brilliant rendition of the original musical, recapturing the gritty nature of the original story. In short, an emotional rollercoaster. Stellar singing, acting and a fantastic story, which is why it will now be compared to classics, such as Rent (1996) and West Side Story (1957) in years to come.