Lower thy expectations. After months of ohmygawditsthebestmovieever buzz and a 91% RottenTomatoes score, the best advice I can give to you before sitting down in an undoubtedly packed theater to watch the new Bradley Cooper/Lady Gaga drama A Star is Born, loyal reader, is to lower thy expectations.
A Star is Born, the third remake of the same story because originality is dead so suck it, is a well-made, well-acted debut for Bradley Cooper the director. It’s largely entertaining and the soundtrack rocks—and it is most certainly a crowd pleaser that understandably sets itself for inevitable if not-quite-earned Oscar nominations—but it isn’t the amazeballs epic it’s been painted as.
The movie is about a young woman (Lady Gaga) who catches the eye of a rambling alcoholic who also happens to be a rock star. She has some singing talent of her own, as you might suspect, and is thrust into sudden stardom.
Cooper is excellent, doing his best Tom Hardy impression (i.e. you can’t always understand what the hell he is saying), while Gaga matches him step for step. But as good as they are, it’s the music that steals the show. Cooper has a surprisingly good voice, and of course we know that Gaga can belt the tunes.
A Star is Born lives and dies by its music.
Because when the actors aren’t singing, the movie is simply good, a straightforward if melodramatic film that starts off strong but fades as the story progresses. As with many relationships, you feel the early spark between Cooper and Gaga only to watch in horror as the woman sells out and simultaneously stays committed to a stumbling drunk who can barely complete sentences. The music is terrific early on but gets—perhaps intentionally—worse in the second half, and the drama itself begins to drag as the film lurches unevenly toward its conclusion.
At two hours and 15 minutes, you start to wish the star was circumcised after being born.
Though it isn’t the great movie some want you to think it is, A Star is Born is nonetheless a solid directorial debut for Bradley Cooper and easy watch that most will enjoy. Just remember to lower thy expectations.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.