Starring: Bradley Cooper, Lady GaGa, Sam Elliot, Rebecca Field, Andrew Dice Clay, Rafi Gavron (Rated M – 136 min).
Familiarity of story alongside being a fourth official version, didn’t diminish the effect this Bradley Charles Cooper directorial debut maintained over me. From opening guitar strums during the famous Warner Bros symbol to passion, pain, and expanse throughout, into a soul wrenching finale but ultimately smile on my face.
Although the basic song remains the same on a time honoured classic, Cooper resuscitates genuine vitality into multiple sinews to custom fit unabashed romantics and cynics alike while unveiling a plethora of incredibly addictive soundtrack tunes.
About to hit rock bottom although still one of the most recognisable rock stars in the world, Jackson Maine (Cooper), bottle in hand, drowning in a cocktail of pills, loneliness and despair until out of the shadows during an after gig impromptu stop, he meets a kindred spirit. Ally (engaging, naturalistic Lady GaGa) takes centre stage at a cabaret club with Maine looking on as she spins around audience members whilst singing an incredible version of La Vie En Rose. Connecting instantly, they hang out over time with eventual companionship helping each other in life, career and sense of being. Some things do not change with alcohol never far away.
Tearing me up on a regular basis, I also admired the musical sequences much more than expected. Songs performed by the cast, mostly written by GaGa and Lukas Nelson (Son of Willie), quality is assured. Precision, confidence and design of when and what pivotal tunes to use match proceedings for dramatic effect. Veteran Sam Elliot always great, a particular shared moment in a car with a winding down to reality Jack, priceless.
Channelling Jeff Bridges in Crazy Heart (2009) for haunting emotions, Cooper is so good he actually annoyed me into guessing what mess to clean up (literally) would occur around him next. GaGa all round flawless. Production terrific, Oscar worthy indeed.
Minor issues were editing in times when Andrew Dice Clay was on screen, more required less cutdown of his character needed and an ending sure to provoke discussion. Solid recommendation overall, I wanted another hour!
Shane A. Bassett