Bradley Cooper had considerable guts and nerve to take on such an iconic and multi-time filmed story as this, not only as his directing debut but to play the more onerous of the star parts - novice-to-film Lady Gaga taking the co-star role. And guess what? He pulls it off with some distinction. Regret to say, however, that if one is familiar with all or just one of the three previous versions (1937, 1954 with Judy Garland, and 1976 with Barbra Streisand and Kris Kristofferson) one already knows that there isn't much scope for any startling imaginative variation from the story of two intertwining lives, her career rising to super-stardom while his tanks under the influence (in this film) of both drugs and alcohol.
At the start of the film, successful singer Cooper, already heavily into drugs and booze, happens to wander into a drag bar where small-time, local turn, played by Lady Gaga, impresses him with her rendition of 'La Vie en Rose'. For him it's pretty well love at first sight, while she's more circumspect, especially attracting the attentions of someone so famous, but she goes along with his not-so-furtive flirt until at a major music festival he coaxes her onstage to perform a song with him. From then on the die is cast and it's upwards for her, descent for him.
The ever-reliable Sam Elliott (what a voice!) plays Cooper's character's hovering-in-the-background, elder brother, frequently exasperated at his sibling's antics and failed struggles with his inner demons, but despite all, still doggedly faithful.
Most of the songs - and all the new ones - were especially written by Lady Gaga with Lucas (son of Willie) Nelson - with some by Mr Cooper too (I've just heard from the radio). They may well require repeated hearing as for me, now just two hours later, I can't recall a single one of them.
With regards to acting, Lady Gaga was remarkable, displaying a wide spectrum of moods and emotions in her debut role, all convincing - and Cooper as good as he's ever been, possibly his best ever in his grungy character. How he made such a good job of directing the whole enterprise at the same time is itself extraordinary.
I think the film will work best of all with those who don't know much about the story - and by now this could well be the majority of cinema-goers. Speaking for myself, although of course details varied from previous incarnations, the essential story is predictable, there being no notable material differences in the two characters' trajectories as previously portrayed, with the result that I found it all a bit tiring (two and quarter hours) to get to the destination which I knew, in a general sort of way, was coming.
This vehicle is sure to attract a number of Oscar nominations and will almost certainly pick up some strategic ones. My single regret as previously stated, was the feeling, details aside, of having seen it all before - which many of us will have done - and inwardly wishing Cooper had chosen something original for his directing debut. Nevertheless, what he does give us is a film of some significance all round..................7.
( IMDB.........8.6 / Rott. Toms................8.1 )
51 minutes ago
I wasn't too keen on this one ...i love the Judy version, naturally ...but I saw a preview and now I cannot wait.ReplyDelete
It doesn't hurt that I've had a crush on Sam Elliott for about a hundred years!
If you can put aside other versions of the story, Bob (a near-impossible task, I know), it'll enhance your enjoyment of this one. I couldn't achieve that, hence my rating being a bit lower than it otherwise might have deserved.Delete
It looked very good from the preview, Im glad to hear you enjoyed it. Over here in the US, we have a show called American Horror Story. Believe it or not it has nothing to do with Trump. Anyhow, Lady Gaga starred in it one season, replacing the just left Jessica Lange that season. I was a wee bit worried about that, but Lady Gaga's acting pleasantly surprised me.ReplyDelete
I'm not sure that 'enjoy' would be quite the right description of my reaction, M.M. 'Admiration' doubtlessly, but it's a somewhat cold admiring - more of an observation from a distance. No complaints in the least about anyone's acting, Lady Gaga's accomplishment being a particular revelation.Delete
I will see it later this week and read what you have to say then. I am looking forward to it after seeing the trailer a few times. I note you gave it a 7, all I would allow myself to look at, so I guess you liked it because that is a pretty high score for you.ReplyDelete
My score was more an acknowledgment of what the film successfully managed to do, Rachel, rather than any especial liking for it. Although I would recommend it I can't actually see myself sitting through it again.Delete
I have seen it now and loved it. I cried a bit. I was not familiar with the story at all, having never seen any of the previous versions you mention. It was new to me. Gaga was superb, as were all the lead actors. I loved the songs and can remember them. Fabulous film.Delete
Yours is a quite frequent opinion voiced, Rachel. Although I DID indeed like it (honestly!) I think I would have been more susceptible to its many positive features if I hadn't been so familiar with the path I know it was going to tread.Delete
More than a few are already hailing it as the 'Film of the Year". I won't go that far. In fact when it comes to listing my ten most liked films of 2018 it's currently touch and go whether this will feature. ("Shame!" I hear some cry.)
I was so glad to see you gave it a 7 because I'm a Gaga fan so I was hoping it was decent. I'll probably have to wait until after it's theater run before I get to watch it but it's on my list of must-sees.ReplyDelete
You certainly won't have any misgiving about her acting abilities, Sadie, and nor should anyone. It would help to see it on the big screen if only to get the most out of the music festival stagings - enormous crowds. But see it in some form at least once, you definitely should.Delete
Never saw any version of this except Judy's and only Judy could have done it. Who was not wowed by her rendition of "The Man That Got Away" and "Born In A Trunk." This version will always be a classic no matter how many times it is remade.ReplyDelete
We shall see if the Academy presents the Oscar to Gaga. That would be ironic since the Academy robbed Judy and gave it to Grace Kelly for her performance in a picture no one remembers.
It's so very long since I saw the Judy G. version, Paul, perhaps 40 years or more, maybe even 50, that I really need to see it again. I recall very little of it and that tells me what I ought to do.Delete
I've not seen the Barbra Streisand again since it was first released, and don't particularly want to.
Probably never seen the '37 film which now interests me as a curiosity.
I think the Best Actress Oscar will likely go to Lady G. I wouldn't decry it if that happened but I think there'd be more worthy candidates on the eventual list - including, I'm expecting, Glenn Close for the film I'll be seeing in a few days. But Lady G. has one big advantage - her well publicised political sympathies are on the 'correct' side.
I've just had to look up what that Grace Kelly Oscar-winning performance was for. Yet another of the many Oscar misfires revealed by hindsight.
I think this new 'Star' is worth your looking at - just the once.
Now waiting impatiently to see your 'top ten.' after so many raves, including "New York" Times" which gave it a glowing review. In their review, they mentioned that Gaga pays tribute to Judy by humming "Over The Rainbow." Did you catch that?ReplyDelete
No, I didn't catch that ref, Paul - nor did I recognise the face of Carole King on the bedroom wall, though I did wonder who it was.Delete
I can already guess what's likely to be the top 3 in my most-LIKED (v. important distinction!) list, and currently the Number One could well be a film which Rachel P., above did not like one bit. Too bad when honesty is of the essence.
I've not seen the other ones either.ReplyDelete
I'd hardly put searching out any single one of the versions in the 'must see' class.Delete