A Star is Born review round-up: 'Leonine' Lady Gaga, 'de-macho' Bradley Cooper in 'thrillingly authentic' film
Bradley Cooper's remake of 1937 film A Star Is Born had its world premiere at the 75th Venice Film Festival.
Bradley Cooper's remake of 1937 film A Star Is Born, which had its world premiere at the 75th Venice Film Festival, opened to resoundingly positive reviews.
The film finds four-time Oscar nominee Cooper (American Hustle, Silver Linings Playbook) directing for the first time, and acting and singing as the downwardly mobile musician Jackson Maine, alongside Gaga, who plays struggling artist Ally. With Maine's encouragement, Ally's career ramps up, but their relationship suffers.
According to David Rooney’s review for The Hollywood Reporter, "there's a lot to love" in the entertaining film, with Cooper's "convincing"portrayal of an alcoholic. "The first-time director's grasp of pacing could be improved and the overlong movie can't quite sustain the energy and charm of its sensational start. But this is a durable tale of romance, heady fame and crushing tragedy, retold for a new generation with heart and grit," he adds.
Both Cooper and Gaga's performances were lauded by TIME Magazine's Stephanie Zacharek, claiming that their performances arouse empathy in the audience. "You come away feeling something for these people, flawed individuals who are trying to hold their cracked pieces of self together — or to mend the cracks of those they love."
Peter Bradshaw of The Guardian also echoed similar sentiments of the leads laying bare their fragility and vulnerability, certifying the film as "outrageously watchable and colossally enjoyable" "But in those closeups that Cooper awards himself, and his huge moments of emotional agony… Well, he’s channelling a bit of Judy. He certainly de-machos the role, and creates a backstory of vulnerability. Cooper is arguably prettier than Lady Gaga, but she is the one who commands your attention: that sharp, quizzical, leonine, mesmeric face – an uningratiating face, very different from the wide-eyed openness of Streisand or Garland."
Owen Gliberman of Variety categorises the new "thrillingly authentic" version as "rapturous and swooning, but also delicate and intimate and luminous". He says, "Cooper has made a jaggedly tender love story that is never over-the-top, an operatic movie that dares to be quiet. Ally has something that Jackson recognizes because he used to have it too: the songwriter’s passion, the drive to take your own story and turn it into a jukebox poem. They have a great conversation about her Roman nose — which plays, knowingly, off the prejudices of the music industry that Gaga confronted on her way up."
Entertainment Weekly's Leah Greenblatt praises Cooper's technical choice "the naturalistic New Cinema style of his ’70s predecessor." She says, "His camera works with a kind of feverish intimacy, closing in as Ally’s profile rises and Jackson stumbles back toward the bottle. That closeness also becomes a bell jar that descends over the film, keeping the audience locked into the couple’s growing unhappiness (and by extension the airless, lonely disconnect of fame)."
However, Indie Wire states that the film becomes "less compelling as it expands its focus beyond their central relationship and toward its overarching ideas, some of which can’t help but feel like the plot contrivances they are — not least because most aren’t given the time they need to fully breathe, even with a runtime of two hours and 15 minutes."
Watch the trailer here.
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