The Schmaltz is Strong in this One!
A STAR IS BORN was originally made in 1937 with Janet Gaynor and Fredric March, (a film loosely based on 1932s WHAT PRICE HOLLYWOOD?), and then remade in 1954 (starring Judy Garland and James Mason), in 1976 (starring Barbra Streisand and Kris Kristofferson), and now starring Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper, who also directs.
Drawing most closely on the 1976 version, this new cover of an old hit is saved from being so much schmaltz-laden, sentimental heart-string tugging romantic tosh by knockout performances, most notably from Lady G as Ally, a nightclub singer discovered by Cooper’s Jackson Maine, a famed singer with an addiction to alcohol with a career on the rocks that takes a dive as Ally’s rises.
The supporting cast are top notch, with Sam Elliott as Jackson’s older bro and manager, Dave Chapelle as Jackson’s friend, Andrew Dice Clay as Ally’s dad, Anthony Ramos as her friend, and some neat guest appearances by the likes of Marlon Williams, Alec Baldwin and Brandi Carlile. But make no mistake, this is Gaga’s show and she owns it. As director, Cooper proves a fine hand at the helm, delivering a rock-solid musical romance with all the emotional ups and heavy downs required by the tragic story arc.
Good looking, talented, a fine director, actor and Cooper can sing – I know, I hate him too! Cooper and Gaga make a great duo, and the sparks fly from the off. Fans of the likes of modern musical romance LA LA LAND rejoice – there’s a new musical in town that’s proud to wear its sentimentality on its glittery, sequined sleeve.
Some may not enjoy the second half of the movie as much as the first, finding it all a bit too generic, but to be fair this is A STAR IS BORN – a remake of a remake of a cover of a cover, yet far from feeling trite and old hat it comes off fresh and full of promise, thanks to superb performances in a film happy to embrace the schmaltz and run with it.