A Star Is Not Born (Obviously, a Review of 'A Star Is Born')
Bradley Cooper’s best role is still Alias.
Luckily, I’ve never been popular, as this statement isn’t going to help: A Star Is Born is possibly the worst film I’ve ever seen. Not because of its budget, acting, hype, or script. But because Bradley Cooper’s directorial debut is super smug from the outset.
A Star Is Born carries the weighty assumptions throughout that Lady Gaga is a brilliant actress, and that Cooper is destined for the A-list roles only Pitt, and Cruise, and Gosling can dream of. But, SPOILER ALERT, he’s not (at least, not thanks to this elongated, derivative, music video). And Gaga’s acting is fine, in that she can cry on cue, but I’d rather watch Crossroads 50 times than sit through this emotionally conniving shitshow ever again.
A remake, of a remake, of a remake, A Star Is Born is about as original as that Han Solo movie that no-one went to see. Having more in common with the likes of Burlesque and Rock of Ages (both of which are way more enjoyable), Cooper’s first film features more flashing lights than a J.J. Abrams trilogy, and songs from the Nashville cutting room floor. His down-and-out, doesn’t wash, can barely sing, country star is almost believable, but it’s Cooper’s own desperation to be taken seriously that slicks off of the screen, rather than any unfettered talent.
And as for chemistry, it’s clear that this movie was conceived pre-#metoo & #timesup. From the lingering and all-too-forward tactile nature of the always-drunk Jackson, to the fact that he kisses Lady Gaga while she sleeps on more than one occasion, any connection between the leads is a forced issue, corrected by a quick cut, or unnecessary close-up; a magician’s playbook, of sorts.
The movie’s one positive is Sam Elliott, who truly steals the show as Cooper’s put-upon older brother. I fully believe he’ll win every Best Supporting Actor award out there, as he should, my silver fox.
But as for the dreary, victim-blamey, and clumsily-foreshadowed plot, some late stage rewrites drag the characters towards that final curtain. If this is Oscar-winning cinema, then the Academy is not for me.
For what it’s worth, Cooper’s turn in Silver Linings Playbook was much, much better. And yes, I still miss when he played geeky-but-loveable Will in Alias, because at least he felt genuine in that.