After months and months of waiting, it’s finally here. “A Star Is Born,” one of my most anticipated films of 2018, hit theaters Thursday, and it’s safe to say it was well worth the wait.
Jackson Maine (Bradley Cooper), a seasoned musician in the latter half of his career, overhears Ally (Lady Gaga), a struggling musician, performing in a bar and quickly falls in love with her and her voice. Convinced she’s destined to be a star, Jack brings her on tour with him, coaching her every step of the way on her path to music stardom. Along the way, Ally helps to revitalize Jack’s career, but he’s facing his own demons threatening to derail his career, as he struggles with alcoholism and prescription drug abuse.
As the two continue to fall in love and climb the charts, “A Star Is Born” guarantees one thing – love hurts.
For every beautiful, lovey-dovey scene of Ally and Jack writing songs together, there’s one to completely tear you apart.
But the reason this heartbreak is so effective is because it feels so real, due to perhaps the most impressive thing about the entire film – Lady Gaga’s seamless transition from music superstar to the big screen. After dabbling in acting with two seasons of “American Horror Story,” Gaga cements herself as a true dual threat in “A Star Is Born.” Able to stand toe to toe with Cooper, one of Hollywood’s finest at the moment, Gaga never misses a beat, making it seem like she’s an experienced veteran.
And that’s not meant to take anything away from Cooper, who is in his peak run right now. As the gravelly-voiced country gentleman, Cooper wins you over and breaks your heart with every bad decision he makes. Whether it’s across from Gaga or a particularly moving scene with Sam Elliott, his on-screen brother, Cooper delivers an extremely solid performance. Not to mention, after three years of lessons Cooper performed all of his own vocals, which has me begging for a solo album. It’s truly wild to think this is the same guy from “The Hangover” just a few years ago.
As a director, Cooper has struck cinematic gold in his debut, making audiences fall in love with a movie that feels so alive. From the outstanding musical sequences to the raw, emotional heartbreak, everything about it feels real.
And, of course, we must address the elephant in the room – the soon-to-be award-winning soundtrack. From the debut single, “Shallow,” to the closing tear-jerker, “I’ll Never Love Again,” Gaga absolutely brings it. Cooper’s crooning “Maybe It’s Time” leaves me wanting to hear even more and makes the film that much more emotional. At 34 tracks, it may seem a bit overwhelming, so here’s a quick top five:
- Shallow – Bradley Cooper & Lady Gaga
- Always Remember Us This Way – Lady Gaga
- I’ll Never Love Again – Lady Gaga
- Maybe It’s Time – Bradley Cooper
- Is That Alright? – Lady Gaga
I fully expect “Shallow” to be a lock for Best Original Song come awards season, and wouldn’t be surprised to see Cooper, Gaga and even Elliott receive nods as well.
It’s safe to say “A Star Is Born” birthed a few stars – Cooper as an accomplished director (and singer!) and Gaga as an actress worthy of the silver screen.
Zach Goins is a member of the North Carolina Film Critics Association based in Raleigh, N.C. Zach co-founded Inside The Film Room in 2018 and serves as Editor-in-Chief of the website and co-host of the podcast. Zach also serves as a film critic for CLTure.org.