Originally Published: October 8, 2018 1:25 p.m.
Bradley Cooper, in his directorial debut, has undertaken a courageous task in piloting this film. A Star is Born has been made at least three times in previous generations — in 1937, 1954 and 1976. The first two were highly acclaimed dramas and Cooper’s version can proudly match their quality.
Cooper plays the role of Jackson (Jack) Maine, the leader of a very successful popular country music band. He plays the guitar and is cherished by fans who show up for his concerts by the thousands. Jack is a heavy drinker who is drunk when not performing — and often when he is on stage.
A Star is Born also stars Lady Gaga. She plays Ally, a young singer, pianist, songwriter who has a job in a drag bar, because she can’t make a connection into professional performing. She does do performances in the bar, karaoke style.
One evening, after a concert, Jack drops into that bar for a drink. It just happens to be on his way home and is basically unknown to him. He is completely overwhelmed when he hears Ally perform. Jack sees the talent she possesses that has been passed over by others in the music business.
They become friends and lovers. He keeps promoting her in his concerts and though she is reluctant to get out there in front of Jack’s huge audience, it all comes together. They marry and they are very happy.
Ally becomes the biggest star in pop music and Jack continues to slide off the charts due to his drinking and drug use. Ally’s love for Jack never diminishes as she tries to get him to quit the habits that are killing his career.
All this is a replay of the original versions of A Star is Born, modified to fit today’s world. The crowning aspect that makes it successful is the performances by the two stars.
Bradley Cooper is outstanding as Jack. He is entirely believable as a super-star rock & roll guitarist and singer, bouncing around the stage with his guitar and his rough and ready appearance.
Lady Gaga is absolutely superb as the young performer who becomes the top name in pop music. Besides her sensational singing, her acting leaves nothing to complain about. As the story progresses, we are moved more deeply by her frustration in trying to save Jack from drunken disaster. Her final number in the film will cause your eyes to fill.
Other players are good in supporting roles, notably Sam Elliot as Jack’s older brother and Andrew Dice Clay as Ally’s father. But director/actor Cooper and Lady Gaga bring this film to the pinnacle that the story of A Star is Born has achieved before.