A Star Is Born

 

            Yes, for those movie afficianados out there, this is a re-make, but it's a good one.  Bradley Cooper plays the aging, profligate rock star Jackson Maine,whose tinnitus is so bad that his ears ring constantly, and he's getting deaf.  And he drinks too much.  And he's addicted to pills.  The people surrounding him have been around so long that they've become enablers, including his older brother, Bobby (Sam Elliott).

            But one night after a gig, Jackson decides to step into a bar to have a drink, and who should be at the microphone but Ally (Lady Gaga), singing “La Vie En Rose,” yes, in French.  And, it turns out that the rest of the performers are all drag queens, except Ally.  They accept her, and she feels safe there, belting out covers anonymously.  Jackson is enchanted with her, and they immediately become an item.  It's not convenient for her menial job, so Jackson sends a limo and a private jet for her to attend his next concert, and suddenly the menial job isn't so important any more.  She lives with her Dad, who's a limo driver, but Jackson manages to charm him, as well, so Jackson gets to whisk Ally away to the Never Never Land of fancy hotels, adoring fans, and making music for the masses.  Jackson even encourages Ally in her songwriting, and finally manages to get her on stage with him so they can publicly perform one of her songs.  She's an instant sensation.

            And that, inevitably, hastens the demise of Jackson Maine.  He won't really admit he's jealous---after all, he “discovered” her and encouraged her in the first place.  But it seems the more famous she becomes, the more he retreats into the booze and pills.  When her new manager encourages her to lean more toward the “pop” music, including glitzy costumes and backup dancers, he can hardly bear to watch.  And he's losing his hearing, anyway.

            But Ally is an optimist, and she fell in love with Jackson quickly enough to marry him impulsively, and she's determined to make it work.  But eventually, she has to insist that he get help, and so it's off to rehab.  She worries that when he's sober, he might not feel the same way about her.  He says that he wasn't drunk the whole time they were together, just most of the time.  But when he returns from rehab, will he be the same person?  And will she look the same to him?

            Bradley Cooper both stars and directs, and yes, plays the guitar and sings, both quite passably.  But of course Lady Gaga is an extraordinary musical talent, and it shines here.  This is her showcase.  And she makes the most of it. 

            “A Star Is Born” is not new material.  But it is a re-make that's done well, and that's rare enough in itself.

 

Dr. Ronald P. Salfen, DFW Film Critics Association