‘A Star Is Born’ perhaps too often (review)

October 5, 2018

‘A Star Is Born’ perhaps too often (review)

CLEVELAND, Ohio – There are two pressing questions everyone wants answered about the new remake of “A Star Is Born,” directed by Bradley Cooper and starring Cooper and Lady Gaga. They are as follows: Can Bradley Cooper direct a movie? And can Lady Gaga carry a major motion picture?

The answers, happily, are yes, and yes. And things begin swimmingly for all involved. Cooper and Gaga have real on-screen chemistry, and the story of a music star discovering another up-and-coming artist in the middle of nowhere sizzles with early promise and excitement.

Unfortunately, this oft-told tale (this is the fourth telling of the story) falls into an all-too-predictable rhythm in the middle of the movie, which becomes a slog in the third and final act.

Jackson Maine (Cooper) — think an artist like Jackson Browne — is a singer/songwriter who has had success as a writer and performer but frankly has seen better days. Living a life close to the bottle is beginning to take its toll. One night after a show, and in search of yet another glass of gin, Maine stumbles into a drag bar, where he discovers the young and talented songwriter Ally (Gaga), who is singing “La Vie en Rose.”

After an impromptu evening of polite courtship, Maine takes Ally under his wing and on the road with his band. Eventually, she starts joining him onstage for a duet or two — and before you know it, as the title of the movie proclaims, “A Star Is Born.”

But the couple are star-crossed.

There is a brief period of wedded bliss and extended sobriety before a creepy, conniving record company executive played by Rafi Gavron get his hooks into Ally and begins her transformation from a singing/songwriting artist into a Lady Gaga-like dancing disco diva. (Irony, anyone?) She starts to become estranged from her creative soul and their marriage. He renews his vow to the bottle.

Just after the halfway point of the movie, the foregone conclusion of the plot becomes writing on the wall in big, bold letters, and the story is slowly but steadily drained of all its initial charm and novelty.

The conventional wisdom on “A Star Is Born” among critics is that the first half is good. Real good. Unfortunately, half-good isn’t good enough.


A Star Is Born

Who: With Bradley Cooper, Lady Gaga, Sam Elliott, Andrew Dice Clay, Dave Chappelle and Rafi Gavron. Directed by Cooper. 

Rated: R.

Running time: 136 minutes.

When: Opens Friday, Oct. 5.

Where: Area theaters.

Rating: C+

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