Bradley Cooper’s career has taken one of the most interesting turns in Hollywood of late. The former Alias star spent the majority of the noughties starring in breezy, quick-witted comedies such as Wedding Crashers and The Hangover. Now, Cooper has transformed and shifted his trajectory in a much more serious, artistic, and challenging direction (no pun intended). With this bold and exciting move, the academy award nominated actor has arrived with his directorial debut, A Star is Born.
Lady Gaga shines her career-defining role as Ally, a small town girl, who is thrust into fame and glory as a global mega-star overnight. Cooper plays the grizzled, and mentally unstable ageing rockstar, Jackson Maine. Together, these unlikely lovers form a strong and passionate bond that is tested by the modern entertainment industry.
On the face of it, this film presents an intriguing insight into what it means to be famous in the 21st century. In an age of social media becoming the central form of communication, alongside the ever-watchful eye of technologically enhanced viewing platforms, Cooper juxtaposes this story against a classic tale of love and loss. Underneath this narrative however, is a much deeper and more complex analysis of mental illness. Cooper beautifully examines the long term effects of childhood trauma and depression, while also shining a raw, truthful, and unglamorous light on fame.
This is a powerful and honest approach to a property that, in its second remake, shouldn’t have anything left to offer. Cooper’s negative approach to representing the studio system is a rarity that easily convinces viewers stardom can be a cruel place, which enables issues and facilitates insecurity.
A Star is Born also boasts fantastic performances from its supporting cast. Sam Elliott’s Oscar-nominated turn as Cooper’s older brother, and surrogate father figure, is enough to bring more than one tear to the eye. While Dave Chappelle’s fleeting appearance is a pleasant surprise, that adds an extra layer of emotional weight and gravitas to the tragic journey of Jackson Maine.
This all amounts to an astounding start for Cooper’s film making career, as well as one of the worst ‘best director’ snubs in recent history. His powerful vision and keen eye for striking visuals have easily crafted one of the most memorable films of the past decade. Alongside an instantly memorable soundtrack, he proves to have incredible skill for both visuals, as well as writing. The opening sequence, in which Cooper genuinely sings to crowd of people after piggy-backing off an existing tour, remains a clear highlight. Indeed, a Star has been born in more ways than one.
A Star Is Born is available on the home formats now.