AGEING, GRIZZLY, self-destructive, country singer Jackson Maine’s (Bradley Cooper ) career is on the slide. An alcoholic, he is starting to lose his hearing and his passion.
One night after a gig he is driving around looking for an open bar. He stumbles into a drag bar and on stage is Ally (Lady Gaga ). When she blasts out 'La Vie En Rose' for a full house he thinks he has seen something special. Insisting on buying her a drink they spend the night together, talking about life, music, and songwriting. He tells her she has a something to say and asks her to go on tour with him.
A Star Is Born is a remake - in fact this is the third time it has been remade (technically four if you count What Price Hollywood, which you should ) - and is a passion product for Bradley Cooper. He was originally attached as just an actor and Clint Eastwood was going to direct. When that fell through Cooper took it over and even gave the script a re-write. Clint himself advised Cooper on the set of American Sniper to go into directing. When Clint was 42 he made his directorial debut with Play Misty For Me, and here, at virtually the same age as his mentor, Cooper makes his debut.
And what a debut it is. To be honest I am a little bit shocked how good this is. The first hour at least. No surprise that Gaga is a wonderful singer but it is a surprise to see she is also a great actor. The novelty of her performance being even remotely passable would be enough to get her an Oscar nomination. Rather than passable, she gives a genuinely great performance and is almost guaranteed at least a nomination. In fact Paddy Power have her second favourite to win best actress. I would consider that a good bet.
A movie like this does not work if the chemistry is not there and you cannot deny the two leads are fantastic together - walking arm in arm from plane to car smiling, the way he watches her while she sings on stage, or the way she surveys his face while he struggles which his demons. This is a wonderfully acted film. The supporting cast is equally strong. A supporting Oscar is surely in the bag for Sam Elliott and it is great seeing Dave Chappelle in a good film.
Of course it is not perfect. For me it faded slightly in the second half, despite a really powerful final 10 minutes. This movie is not Oscar bait, it is an Oscar Magnet. I’ll be genuinely shocked if it does not clean up in February.