A Star Is Born ★★★½

Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper give absolute powerhouse performances in A Star is Born. The standout sequence is the duet performance of Shallow that is featured prominently in the trailers and sure to earn the Academy Award for best original song.

The character work between Jack and Ally is strong as well. This was the first iteration of A Star is Born that I've seen but I could see how much heart Cooper poured into it. Jack's struggles with abusing alcohol and pills carefully avoids the trappings of melodrama and cliché to give us a pretty nuanced portrayal of an artist tortured by addiction. Ally, on the other hand, has the inner conflict of stardom and her overall identity in the music industry to battle. They're fairly different conflicts, but the way the characters' deal with their own issues and their perspective on the other's demons are what make their relationship so interesting in the film.

As interesting as the story was and as powerful as the performances were, I didn't feel as attached to the characters' journey as I thought I would. Part of this is probably due to being somewhat distracted by a subplot involving Cooper's character's hearing. It made sense in the movie, and fit well to demonstrate why he abuses pills and alcohol, but I think I was anticipating more drama specifically linked to that plot that never came.

Nonetheless, I think A Star is Born was an impressive directorial debut for Cooper with award-worthy performances from the two leads.

Reviewed in Episode 259 of The Obsessive Viewer Podcast.