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  • Writer's pictureBruce Klein

A Star is Born: Review

A Star is Born should be known as “Rock Fantasy.” A big country-rock star befriends the only girl singer in a drag show. Out for a drink, she sings one of her songs to him. At his next gig, he invites her onto the stage and a star emerges. She starts singing with him and his group. She marries him, but outgrows him and with the help of a muse goes out on her own. As his career fades, her light burns brighter and hotter. She wants him to tour with her, but her muse forbids it because he’s a heavy drinking. She begins rising and hits the best new singer in the world. She goes up to the stage to accept her award. He comes after her, gives her a big hug and falls down drunk. She leaves for the tour and he feels like a has-been and a hindrance.

The caterpillar turns into a butterfly says Bobby (Sam Elliot). Maybe this movie is a takeoff on the life story of Lady Gaga. Sometimes she looks like a mannequin playing herself. Jack (Bradley Cooper) sounds and behaves like every other big country-rock star. Ally (Lada Gaga) goes from feeling her music in her heart to feeling it in her purse and ego. The movie takes on a sentimental note-with a dog waiting for his master to return from the dead-to a Schmaltzy ending. There's good singing, but too much for too long. Ok, we get the idea after two songs. Photography is jerky and spinning; probably to represent Jack’s perspective while on booze and drugs. The music must be ear-splitting loud to show how Jack’s hearing loss takes place.

Great casting makes the movie work. Gaga proves her acting chops. Cooper took singing lessons to do this movie and it shows. Elliot preformed well as the big brother. The first two acts were good, but the movie sinks in the third act. For example, we never find out how she feels about her career and life. Why does she go on with her career as she falls into the same trap which snared Jack and his career?

Maybe schmaltz is a tradition in this story. (This version being its forth production.) In the closing act, the flash backs are a bit over the top. They turn the movie from sentimental to mawkish. The audience witnesses a story arc of pure rock fantasy: the singer, who never played in a band as far as we know, then goes on a big rock-concert stage with Jack and onto superstardom on her own. But it is close to Lady Gaga’s career, the Julliard Student who changes from singer/piano player to out and out dancing rock star, to classic crooner, to movie star. From the drag show to the concert hall is close enough to Lady Gaga’s story to call it a stylized bio pic.

If you’re up for a country rock saga, go see this movie. You will become part of country music, the last bastion of the traditional music industry with its song writers, singers, sold out shows and lots of single and album sales. Bring your ear plugs so you don’t lose your hearing before the credits roll.

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