By Marc S. Sanders
Bradley Cooper produces, directs and co-writes himself with Lady Gaga in the fourth iteration of A Star Is Born. They will go down as the hottest screen couple of October, 2018, but not much beyond that.
The chemistry is maybe there between the two stars but I won’t say it’s very electrifying. Individually, I really liked what each of their performances offered. Together? Meh. At times when they are in a scene it almost looks like they are not paying attention to one another; as if they aren’t listening for their cues. Oddly enough, Sam Elliott and Cooper have terrific chemistry as brothers. They truly look and sound like they came from the same cloth. Same with Gaga and Andrew “Dice” Clay as her father (a welcome surprise; I wish he had more material). The scenes with Gaga and Cooper however don’t measure up.
Cooper directs outstanding musical performances of himself and especially Gaga, though I’d argue she relieved some of the pressure with her experienced talents. Her first concert introduction is show stopping; that note she hits stays with you. Her final performance is just as effective and reminiscent of the legendary status Whitney Houston made for herself in The Bodyguard.
Cooper’s directorial debut absolutely must be commended. The concert set pieces are especially authentic. However, the film is too long. For a simple and familiar story, two hours and fifteen minutes is a bit much. A small appearance by Dave Chappelle as Cooper’s friend is wasted and pointless. He shows up an hour into the film, does a quick scene and then he’s never mentioned again. Definitely a scene worthy of the cutting room floor.
Lady Gaga has wonderful moments especially at the very end and during the first half of the film. The 2nd act is by no means her fault but when her stardom blossoms, I didn’t care for the image of a what seemed like a 2nd rate Miley Cyrus act. I would have preferred something more sophisticated like Celine Dion, Adele, or heck even a Lady Gaga. The artificial orange/red hair is a major distraction. I couldn’t help but get fixated on this car accident of an hairdo and not on the performance. A poor choice.
It’s a good film. Not great. Some songs are memorable. Some are very forgettable. I think Bradley Cooper did a fine directing job more or less. I just hope he gets a little better.