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A Star is Born

A Star Is Born
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judy thorburn-100

By Judy Thorburn - The Flick Chick

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Lady Gaga makes her much anticipated big screen debut in “A Star Is Born”, the third remake of the 1937 film of the same name. It also marks the directorial debut of Academy award nominated actor, Bradley Cooper, who cowrote the screenplay with Eric Roth (The Curious Case of Benjamin Button) and Will Fetters (Remember Me) and has cast himself as the male lead.

I really liked the 1976 version starring Barbra Streisand and Kris Kristofferson that moved its original setting from the movie industry to the world of pop music. Cooper follows that model and utilizes a few elements, but changes it up with a re-imagined narrative and additional sideline characters. What remains in tact is the foundation of a tragic love story revolving around the rise of one star and the fall of another.

Cooper has proven to be a great actor and he delivers a convincing portrayal of Jackson Maine, a self destructive, superstar country rock musician addicted to drugs and alcohol.

Gaga plays the “star” of the title, Ally, a talented singer and songwriter, who was always told she had a great voice but could never make it because her nose was too big. Instead, she is stuck working as a waitress by day and at night takes the stage at a gay/drag queen bar where gets to sing. One evening, after a concert gig, Jackson, in need of a hard drink, winds up at the bar and is immediately mesmerized by Ally while watching her perform a knock out version of Edith Piaf's La Vie En Rose. An attraction between the two develops, with Jackson inviting Ally to be flown by private jet to to see him in concert. That is where she coaxed to do a duet with Jackson that goes viral on U Tube leading to Ally joining him on tour and a close bond turning into romance and eventual marriage. Soon Ally is noticed by a famous record producer (Rafi Gavron), signs with a record label, and finds her career soaring, as Jackson's career and personal life goes on a downward spiral as he struggles with his inner demons.

The film starts off promising but in the second half loses momentum. As a result, I lost interest and become bored by the uneven pacing, slow progression and scenes that are too long and drawn out and with way to many extreme closeups that lose their impact. Except for the concert scenes, I am sorry to say I was underwhelmed by Cooper's first try at the helm.

As for Lady Gaga, she gives an effective natural performance. But is it a stretch for the pop star? I don't think so. She is definitely in her element and can relate to playing a singer/songwriter who catapults to stardom. Cooper and his “lady” show great chemistry in the beginning when he falls for her at first sight, but somehow that “spark” doesn't hold up as the story progresses.

The supporting cast includes Sam Elliott as Jackson's much older brother and manager Bobby, with whom he has a turbulent relationship involving their family history.  Andrew Dice Clay portrays Ally's grey haired, supportive Dad, a wannabe singer/turned limo driver who dreamt of being another Sinatra, and Dave Chappelle appears in a small, almost cameo role, as Jackson's old childhood buddy and fellow musician who gave up touring to be a devoted family man.

The film's highlights are, of course, the musical performances. When Gaga belts out a song, you are glued to the screen. Cooper, on the other hand, can add another talent to his resume.  This blue eyed hunk can sing and holds his own either singing solo or in a duet with Lady G.

That said, I was really looking forward to seeing this film and was hoping to give it a rave review. Unfortunately, the latest remake of a Star is Born doesn't shine as bright as I had expected.

Courtesy of http://www.theflickchicks.com





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