A Star is Born (4 stars)

A Star is Born

TIFF 2018: Bradley Cooper's directorial debut is a stunner starring Lady Gaga

There never seemed a compelling reason to bring another remake of A Star is Born into the world but Bradley Cooper's heartbreaking new version could transform the most grudging cynic into a true believer. The story of a tragic romance between a striking new talent and a fallen idol is just as potent now as it was more than 80 years ago. The impact here rests on Cooper's filmmaking brio (a star is definitely born in terms of his directing career), the sizzle in the chemistry between Cooper and co-star Lady Gaga, and a soundtrack of emotional, heart-tugging new songs.

Following in the giant footsteps of Judy Garland and Barbra Streisand, among others, Gaga gives a nuanced, convincing dramatic performance and sings up a storm, but this still feels like Cooper's film. He is the co-writer, producer, director, star, singer and also had a hand in the music. Just in the range of responsibilities and the skill with which he performs them, Cooper's feat of filmmaking puts him on a par with great American actors turned auteurs like Clint Eastwood and Warren Beatty.

Cooper's Jackson Maine is a huge music star, recognised by everyone and able to fill a stadium on his name and reputation. He is also overly fond of booze, suffering from chronic tinnitus and starting to look like his best years are behind him. One night, he stumbles into a bar looking for a drink and sees Ally (Gaga) singing her heart out. The attraction is instant and the love affair that follows is all-consuming, played out in a music industry where her fame starts to soar just as he becomes a liability. Smart, funny and heartfelt, this A Star is Born is a love story for the ages.

Screening as part of the Toronto International Film Festival 2018. General release from Fri 5 Oct.

A Star is Born

  • 4 stars
  • 2018
  • US
  • 2h 15min
  • 15
  • Directed by: Bradley Cooper
  • Cast: Lady Gaga, Bradley Cooper, Sam Elliott
  • UK release: 5 October 2018

Jackson (Cooper) is a famous musician, his best years behind him, who discovers young singer Ally (Gaga) in a bar one night. What could have been yet another remake is a revelation: Gaga sings up a storm and is nuanced and convincing, but Cooper is extraordinary as co-writer, producer, director and star. Smart, funny and…