In just over a week since it was released, A Star Is Born has already been hailed as one of the best films of the year. It has been praised by critics and general audiences alike and is set to be a big contender at the next Oscars. As the third remake of the 1937 film, which starred Janey Gaynor and Fredic March, many people were sceptical about the latest version, in which Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper play the leads. However, the film's Rotten Tomatoes score of 90 and largely positive reviews prove that remakes aren't always a mistake.
Directed by Bradley Cooper, A Star Is Born focuses on a troubled country star called Jack who discovers an aspiring singer at a bar following a concert. Jack is instantly drawn to Ally's incredible voice and asks her to have a drink with him. After spending an evening together that involves Ally punching a policeman and Jack accompanying her to a shop to buy a bag of frozen peas to use as an ice pack, Ally is unsure whether she'll see Jack again. However, Jack is eager for Ally to join him on stage and become her mentor so that the world can see her talent, and although reluctant at first, Ally eventually gives in. The pair soon forms a strong connection and perform together. Unfortunately, as soon as Ally becomes more and more successful, Jack's personal issues come to light and their relationship – as well as his life – are at risk.
Bradley Cooper has done an outstanding job in his directorial debut. Both Bradley and Lady Gaga perform their roles with authenticity and sincerity, and you can really feel for both characters. The romance between Jack and Ally is believable and does not feel at all forced. It's impossible not to become emotionally invested in their love story, even if you get the feeling that it might not end well.
Although Lady Gaga has previously appeared in a number of films and TV shows (most notably American Horror Story), A Star Is Born is the singer's first major big screen role. Right from the beginning, Lady Gaga shines as Ally. While Ally wants to stay true to herself and not do anything dramatic, various people in the industry claim that she doesn't look the part (Ally states that they think her nose is "too big"). Even her manager Rez Gavron (portrayed by Rafi Gavron) urges Ally to change her hair colour and use dancers in her performances. Rez is partly successful and Ally undergoes a transformation during the film, in terms of her image and personality. Ally starts off as a timid waitress who only gets to sing in front of a small audience at a drag bar and soon becomes an assertive popstar who appears on Saturday Night Live and Coachella.
Unfortunately, things are not going so well for Jack. He becomes jealous of Ally's newfound fame and turns to alcohol and drugs as a means of escape. While Jack already suffered from addiction before Ally came into his life, it escalates as their relationship progresses and Jack realises that he is past his prime. Bradley Cooper conveys the pain and shame of being an addict, and his downward spiral is heart-breaking to watch, especially given the recent passing of Mac Miller due to drugs and Demi Lovato's near-fatal overdose a few months ago.
What makes A Star Is Born even more sensational is its soundtrack. The film features 19 original songs that cover a wide of genres, including synth-pop, country and R&B and were written by Lady Gaga, Bradley Cooper, Mark Ronson and Lukas Nelson. No matter what you think of Lady Gaga, there's no doubt that you will be blown away by her vocals. Every song is brilliant and shows just how versatile Lady Gaga is. There's the mesmerising cover of Edith Piaf's 'La Vie en Rose', the beautiful 'Shallow' (which remains the most memorable song from the film), and the powerful 'I'll Never Love Again' (which has been described as this generation's 'I Will Always Love You'). Bradley Cooper is also a good singer, as proved by the likes of 'Black Eyes' and 'Maybe It's Time'.
A Star Is Born is a refreshing story about just how competitive Hollywood is and the price that comes with fame. Of course A Star Is Born has its cheesy and predictable moments, but that doesn't take away the fact that it is one of the best musical films of recent years. It's brutally honest and deserves all the success coming its way.