Cast: Bradley Cooper, Lady Gaga, Sam Elliott, Andrew Dice Clay, Rafi Gavron, Anthony Ramos, Dave Chapelle, Alec Baldwin, Marlon Williams, Brandi Carlile
Creative Team: Songs by Lukas Nelson, Lady Gaga, Bradley Cooper, Mark Nilan Jr., Nick Monson, Aaron Raitiere, Paul Blair and others • Screenplay by Eric Roth, Bradley Cooper & Will Fetters • Original Story by William A. Wellman & Robert Carson • Directed by Bradley Cooper
My Rate: 6 (from 1 to 10)
The Plot: Jack is a famous singer/composer whose career, because of drugs and alcohol, seems to be downhill. One day he meets Ally, an aspiring singer/composer, on a drag club and falls in love with her. Seeing her potential as an artist he pushes her to the front of his concerts helping her to become a star on her own.
The Movie: This is the fourth time that this award-winning story serves as the basis for a movie. The first time was in 1937 as a melodrama starring Janet Gaynor and Fredric March; in 1954 it became a musical with Judy Garland and James Mason and in the 70s a pop/rock musical starring Barbra Streisand and Kris Kristofferson. I believe you already know all about that and that this new adaptation of the story is closer to the 70s version than to the others. Before going on, I just want to tell that, not surprisingly, my favorite is the Judy Garland version.
I have to congratulate Bradley Cooper for such a strong debut in the director’s chair. He shows a steady hand and knows how to deliver emotional scenes without being too lame. He’s also excellent directing his cast and himself; in fact, he gives us one of the best performances of his career. And he also can sing!
As for Lady Gaga, she is a revelation as an actress and, at least for me, as an excellent singer. Although she reminded me of Streisand, she makes the role her own and deserves the reviews she’s having. For me, the only problem is that she didn’t convince me as the pop star her producer turns her into. She isn’t comfortable on that role (the number introduced by Alec Baldwin is terrible) and her character seemed to me too strong to let that happen.
The best thing are the concerts numbers on the first half of the movie, where “The Shallow” and “Always Remember Us This Way” become highly emotional moments that gave me chills up and down my spine. I also loved the scene on the drag club, where Lady Gaga delivers an exciting “La Vie en Rose”; she’s also terrific with the beautiful ballad “I’ll Never Love Again”.
Maybe I’m imagining things, but I think Cooper gives us a small tribute to Judy Garland when, almost at the beginning of the movie, Ally goes through an alley singing the kind of song Garland sung and a tribute to Streisand by having Ally being discovered in a gay club.
I don’t doubt the movie will be on the Oscar run and that its stars and songs have a strong chance to get deserved nominations. I enjoy seeing it, but I didn’t fall in love with it; the problem is the second half of the movie, when Ally become a star like any other pop star. Gaga is great, but Cooper is better!