Cinematic Releases: Musical Beauty Unbound: A Star Is Born (2018) Reviewed

Bradley Cooper grabs the reins and brings a classic story back into theaters with unbridled rock and roll energy, lean country swagger, and a contemporary pop sensibility that will drain your soul and your tear ducts. 

In its fourth outing, the timeless tale of A Star Is Born gets a vital remake that is nothing short of cinematic excellence. Cooper's freshman directorial act is touched by a divine hand that's nothing short of sheer perfection made astute by his nearly two decades as an actor. His film has no low points, but instead keeps upping the ante throughout with dramatic grace and steadfast performances worthy of every award under the sun. To say this isn't in the top five films of 2018 wouldn't be fair to Cooper and Gaga's work on this absolutely wonderful achievement.

From a person that's never really followed Lady Gaga, this warm breath of theatrical elegance is the doorway to becoming a lifelong fan. As a modernized piece of musical artistry, this modernized version is her key to an Oscar nod and Bradley Cooper's first dive as a master director. Using a script that plays to current themes in the music industry, the drug and alcohol culture that plagues that business, and a beautiful story about a hyper talented melodic angel coming into her own, A Star is Born calls back to a time when we expected greatness from movies. Not really copying too much from previous iterations other than the basic story, this serves as both an indictment on the live fast/die young attitude of a commercial industry but also captures how wonderful musical creativity can be when it's unleashed to the world. 

Typically going into a film that features a non-full time-actor as its main star, audiences have no idea what to expect. Luckily for us, Lady Gaga is a dynamic force to be reckoned with. Her lack of previous (movie) acting actually serves the purpose of creating a down on her luck service industry person that had no expectations of becoming a world renowned singer. When she's thrust into the spotlight with little notice, her character Ally takes the leap towards becoming a massive top ten pop star. The enduring moments of the film serve as an emotional roller coaster that takes us through the highs, the lows, and the inevitable momentous crash. 

Using their natural chemistry to full effect, Cooper and Gaga seem like they've known each other forever. You can feel a connection so palpable, it actually drips off the screen. Cooper sinks into Jackson Maine becoming nearly unrecognizable as the mega-star he's become. Gaga does her chameleon act, changing from everyday local girl to one of the biggest stars in the world. Both succeed at creating human characters that we can all associate with. And that's where A Star Is Born whole heartedly succeeds. Instead of becoming just another movie about stardom, we can sympathize with these characters. With Gaga's natural inflection towards being real, she transcends what any of us could have expected. 

To say this movie is anything short of a masterpiece would be a sin. The casting is excellent. The music is a pop culture amalgamation of Gaga's musical world and the stage world Cooper creates. And the casting of Sam Elliot is another cherry on top of a delectable bit of filmmaking that deserves whatever accolades come its way. 

I need this soundtrack on vinyl right now. Give this lady an Oscar.