The Winonan

Film in review: “A Star is Born”

The+Winonan%27s+film+reporter+gives+this+movie+5%2F5+stars.
The Winonan's film reporter gives this movie 5/5 stars.

The Winonan's film reporter gives this movie 5/5 stars.

The Winonan's film reporter gives this movie 5/5 stars.

Blake Gasner, Film Reporter

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As the year dips its toes into the fall season with the sale of Halloween candy nationwide, the film industry officially swings itself into the Oscar season with the release of “A Star is Born,” setting the tempo for what should be a promising several months of film-going. It is not uncommon for melodramas like these to pack a heavy punch of emotion, but what occurs in “A Star is Born” is a truly unique experience.

Frequent leading man Bradley Cooper (“The Hangover,” “Silver Linings Playbook” and “American Sniper”) grabs the directorial reigns for his behind-the-camera debut with a third remake of “A Star is Born” (following the 1937, 1954 and 1976 versions, respectively), featuring himself in the starring role opposite pop megastar Lady Gaga in her cinematic debut.

The story is nothing new: an alcoholic rock star (Cooper) meets a beautiful young musician (Gaga) with near limitless talent whom he takes under his wing as the two fall deeply in love with each other. However, the pangs of obtaining celebrity status make themselves known with an assault on the identities of both musicians as they struggle to grab their footing together in the unhealthy climate of fame.

This recipe on paper sounds devoid of the fresh herbs and spices necessary for a flavorful meal, but the cooks in the kitchen work a miracle here and deliver a surprise

package full of unforgettable tastes and aromas that stick in the air long after the credits roll. Cooper’s directorial debut is astonishing. His years working under directors like Clint Eastwood and David O. Russell obviously afford him with a privileged, upfront lens to watching some of the best filmmakers of today work behind the scenes, but nevertheless, credit deserves to be given where credit is due and Cooper strings together one of the most emotionally grossing films in recent memory and one of the best films of the year in general.

Cooper is obviously not the only “rock star” behind the scenes here, but he certainly demands a bulk of the praise. His rugged and overwhelmingly charming performance as Jackson Maine is heartbreaking and likely his greatest role to date. The struggle of an honest man plagued by a broken upbringing is intoxicating and impossible to turn away from as he cycles through self-destructive decisions and moments of jaw-dropping heart and authenticity with Gaga’s Ally.

Of course, it’s important to realize a film about a romantic pairing is only as strong as each half of the duo, and Lady Gaga undeniably transforms as Ally. This role may play to her strengths as a real-life singer-songwriter, but regardless her screen presence is remarkably on par with Cooper’s seasoned acting chops. She has nowhere to hide as the camera frequently lingers on her face throughout the film for moments of deeply emotive musical performances. The chemistry between these two is undeniable.

An authentic and emotionally daring script by Eric Roth, Bradley Cooper and Will Fetters complement these performances powerfully. On top of mastering interesting, sexy and realistic dialogue between lovers (a feat many Hollywood films cannot claim to have achieved) the script also injects the film with numerous thought-provoking ideas regarding the toxic commercialization of the celebrity image and discovering one’s own voice in art.

The strongest and most memorable aspect of “A Star is Born” should not surprise anyone. It’s the part of the film you can bring home with you via blasting it through your car’s speakers immediately after leaving the theater: the soundtrack. Cooper’s and Gaga’s vocals are stunning and consistently goosebump-inducing. The variety of genres and song types featured here are strategically embedded throughout the film to serve the thematic qualities relating to each of the characters’ arcs. Each song is vital in telling their story from the inception of their romance to the very end of the of the credits and thankfully, due to the convenience of digital streaming, is a musical story we can bring with us wherever we go. 5/5

About the Writer
Blake Gasner, Film Reporter

Blake Gasner works as the current film critic for the Winonan. He is in the midst of his first year with the paper, but his love for cinema is years in...

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Film in review: “A Star is Born”