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A Star Is Born (dir. Cooper)

Image: Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga duet on stage © Property of Warner Bros. and MGM Pictures Inc. [Source: IMDB]

★★★☆☆

Bradley Cooper takes the directorial reigns for the first time and Lady Gaga takes to the dramatic arts in this much remade Hollywood star story of a young singer brought to success and fame by the ageing downward spiral of an older performer.

Director: Bradley Cooper. Starring: Bradley Cooper, Lady Gaga, Sam Elliott [15]

Oscar bait in its finest form. But how does it fair up? In truth, Bradley Cooper helms not only the direction but the main role will a power found in very few comedic actors turned serious. Cooper himself struggling to find a type to tune his talents to, whether it’s a more dramatic mainstream movie like Limitless or an out-and-out comedy like the Hangover series he has never come into his own. Now, however, he triumphs standing atop his mountain of passion for this project and glows like a star at the top. Enough to be taking an Oscar? We will see, what is almost certain from my point of view is a nomination.

Cooper’s Jack is a far more complex and genuine character than any character I’ve seen Cooper play. The spectrum of the conflict within and surrounding this character is expertly conveyed and is the real driving force of not only the film but the depth of music. To which in reflection I must say stands better than the film itself. Gaga has done a superb job with the songs capturing the quiet sorrow and surface level pain of this tale. Also doing much the same with her character, stretching her acting chops and demonstrating that she is quite the triple threat. She does not reach the magnitudes of Cooper but surprisingly holds her own against his performance. Not being drowned out or overshadowed.

Shadowed behind the powerful performances and the great soundtrack, however, is a fairly slow-paced, ill-plotted and stale styled film. Much of the early character development is told in a rather monotonous first half of film. Boring the audience into submission with a gooey and gushing romance that seemingly is going no-where. It may win over the more romantic movie goer but drama is nought without conflict to which much of this film is scarce. Adding to this frustrating first act is the overly played out conventional tropes to clue the audience into the characters, familiar sights like rushing to a bottle of alcohol for an alcoholic are simply out of time and add a touch of phoney behaviour to the film. Doing it no favours.

Beyond the first half, however, lives a tantalising and sweeping story of sweet romance and sorrow. To which the great character actor Sam Elliott lends his extraordinary talents and really raises the bar for the other performances coming into the final act. While the film itself plays with a familiar story and even more played out narrative techniques and stylings. It is none the less a picture that will stick with you for a few days. All the credit for that goes to the soundtrack and the superb performances which might just birth Bradley Cooper a star of his own making.

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