9/10
Thorough, affecting remake with a shattering ending
8 January 2020
STAR RATING: ***** Saturday Night **** Friday Night *** Friday Morning ** Sunday Night * Monday Morning

Singer Ally (Lady Gaga) struggles to get by in life, working behind the scenes in a restaurant. But she gets a lucky break one night when famous country singer Jack (Bradley Cooper) and his entourage roll by a bar she's drinking in, and the pair hit it off. Forming a relationship, Ally is supported in chasing her dream as a recording artist by Jack, and becomes a star in her own right. But Jack is plagued by demons, struggling with a drink problem that plunges them both into a tumultuous journey of love and despair.

There was, it would seem, a love drama from the late 70s/early 80s entitled A Star is Born, which established star Bradley Cooper has decided to remake as his acting/directing debut. While he felt confident enough to do this as an actor, we have co star Lady Gaga, apparently feeling confident enough to make her acting debut, but conversely, in a film about singing, having more experience of this than Cooper, who's playing a country singer. So we have a film with two diametrically opposed co stars trying something new. The result is a surprisingly affecting, thoroughly examined tale that will leave an impression for a while.

Cooper leaves no stone unturned fleshing out the development and subsequent dynamics of the relationship between the main antagonists, and, despite their considerable age difference, manages to create a convincing couple. They say behind every strong (or apparently strong) man is a strong woman, and the film is a testament to that, with Cooper as the crumbling, destructive guy, raging with inner turmoil with demons from his past, and Gaga, effective in her debut performance, as the girl who is more attracted to his faults than his virtues, desperate to save him and save him from falling down. It's an affecting tale, thoroughly examined in minute detail by Cooper in his debut directorial project.

There's a little bit too much of the f word (how true that is to real life characters like this, I don't know) and it doesn't always sail a totally steady course, but it's still a highly worthwhile drama, with an earth shattering, gut wrenchingly unexpected ending that leaves you with a solid emotional punch. ****
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