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#TIFF18 Review: A Star is Born

September 14, 2018

By John Corrado

★★★★ (out of 4)

For his directorial debut, Bradley Cooper has delivered the third remake of A Star is Born, following the 1937 original which received new iterations in 1954 and 1976, and the results are pretty great. This time around, the story involves Jackson Maine (Cooper), a washed up country star who meets young singer Ally (Lady Gaga) at a club, and helps turn her into a pop star. But as Jackson succumbs to alcoholism and finds his career fading, just as Ally’s career starts to really take off, an increasing distance starts to form between them.

This might be a somewhat familiar story, and the film is a bit predictable at times, but this is hardly a problem. It’s a familiar tale that is extremely well told, and Cooper finds much room to make it feel fresh. One of the biggest draws here is obviously the music, and the multiple musical numbers in the film are phenomenal, offering an entire album’s worth of new songs that chart the character progression of the film, from the stripped down country ballads that Jackson and Ally perform together, to the more standard pop songs as she starts to go solo. While the film is not technically a musical, the songs do carry the film and help tell the story, and many of them are memorable enough to stand on their own.

The film is also carried by great performances from its leads. Cooper really impresses in the role of a grizzled, alcoholic country singer, revealing himself to have a strong singing voice along with his ability to devastate us with a look in his soulful eyes, and Lady Gaga proves herself to be the real deal as an actress. She’s a star in more ways than one, delivering a quietly revelatory performance as she powerfully navigates both the musical performances and big dramatic moments with equal aplomb.

The last twenty minutes of the film are extremely well directed, with one haunting scene in particular showing that Cooper’s strengths as a visual storyteller absolutely match his skills as an actor. This is not only an accomplished and moving directorial debut for one of our finest actors, proving his ability to craft a story that is both extremely enjoyable and emotionally gutting, but also resounding proof that one of the biggest modern pop stars now has the spotlight as an actress. A star is born, indeed.

Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga in A Star is Born

Public Screenings:

Sunday, September 9th – 6:00 PM at Roy Thomson Hall

Sunday, September 9th – 7:30 PM at Elgin Theatre

Monday, September 10th – 8:45 AM at TIFF Bell Lightbox

Wednesday, September 12th – 9:30 PM at TIFF Bell Lightbox

Friday, September 14th – 6:45 PM at TIFF Bell Lightbox

The 2018 Toronto International Film Festival runs from September 6th to 16th.

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