Jackson Maine, (Bradley Cooper) is a famous country-rock star who performs at sold-out stadiums. But the rest of the world doesn’t see how his alcoholism has a taken a toll on him over the years. On a drinking binge after a concert, Jack comes across Ally (Lady Gaga) at a bar and is impressed by her singing. Ally confesses that despite her undeniable talent she’s been told she doesn’t look good enough to make it big in the music industry. Inspired by her, Jack works on one of her original compositions, coaxes Ally to perform with him live on-stage, and the resounding praise they receive launches Ally’s career. The two also fall in love with each other, but Jack’s addiction catches up with them along the way.
Originally made in 1937, with remakes in 1954 and 1976, this is the fourth version of ‘A Star is Born’. ‘Aashiqui 2’ (2013) is also based on the same story. This tale transcends generations and languages because it ticks a lot of storytelling boxes – a famous star on a downward spiral; an underdog overcoming adversity to make it big; two talented people who can’t help falling in love with each other – we’ve seen variations of them all, several times before. But director Bradley Cooper, who co-wrote the screenplay, reconstructs the film for the present age. He focuses on each character’s emotional journeys and the impact they have as they intersect. A musical works best when its songs go beyond sheer entertainment value and add emotional depth to the narrative. As a trained singer, Gaga’s vocal range and tonal quality shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone, neither should her ability to tell a story through song. But the vulnerability in her acting and singing performances convey a raw sensitivity that defies her status as a real-life pop star. When a strong cast and palpable, intimate chemistry between the lead pair is added on top of that, the result is sheer movie magic.
Despite being engaging throughout; the film feels a little stuffed with a run-time of over 2 hours. The numerous subplots also require ample attention, but some pivotal character beats get brushed over and don’t resonate as much as they should. This becomes evident especially around the second act, and a tighter edit would fine-tune the intended impact. Nevertheless, ‘A Star is Born’ has enough goose-bump inducing moments to shake off any hangovers of its predecessors, largely thanks to an astounding original soundtrack. Bradley Cooper has something new to say in this version, and Lady Gaga belts it out loud and clear to make this a definite contender in numerous categories during awards season.