Edit ModuleEdit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

The 400-Word Review: A Star is Born

The high-profile remake is a good, old-fashioned movie musical with a lot to offer.




Photo courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures. All Rights Reserved.
 

A Star is Born” is either a callous, unpleasant bad-idea of a movie, or it is a moving and spellbinding work of pop art. I wouldn’t quibble with anyone who felt either way.

Which route you choose, in your own analysis, largely depends on how you interpret the last two seconds of the film.

Obviously, I can’t get into that detail; I’m pretty sure, by any definition, discussing the last photograph of a 135-minute film counts as a spoiler. So here’s the good news: “A Star is Born” is a good, old-fashioned movie of a movie, a dramatic and watchable spectacle of celebrity, performance and soap-opera drama. If you like it, you’ll love it. If you hate it, you’ll still think about watching it a second time.

The fourth cinematic take on a story that dates back to 1937, “A Star is Born” concerns a pop-music downfall and a simultaneous ascendance. Jackson Maine (Bradley Cooper, also the film’s director) is a crossover country star with rock-guitar chops and a few big problems: He’s an alcoholic, he’s addicted to pills, he’s got a dark past and he’s going deaf. (It’s the “Behind the Music” grab-bag!) Upon wandering into a drag bar after another sold-out show, he catches a performance by chanteuse Ally (Lady Gaga), belting “La Vie En Rose” between acts; romance and artistic interest blossom simultaneously, and Ally swiftly finds herself on the road with Mayne.

You can accurately guess at the beats from that point forward, as Ally becomes a star (with all the milestones of modern music stardom) and Mayne becomes a Nashville-cliche drunk. Not to worry, though; as soon as Gaga performs “La Vie En Rose” amid sequins and boas, you’ve more than got your money’s worth.

The performances are stellar, the kind of restrained heart-wringers from the ’70s and ’80s dramas Cooper is clearly imitating, both behind and in front of the camera. Cooper is great, and Gaga is excellent; in a vital supporting role, Sam Elliott turns in an indelible, heartbreaking performance.

From an unkind lens, “A Star is Born” is melodramatic misery porn, putting Ally through undue hell to keep us enthralled. I’m a bit more intrigued by the other reading of the film, however — the one in which that final shot makes the audience reconsider everything that has come before.

Is it worth seeing? Absolutely. They don’t make ’em like this anymore.

My Rating: 8/10
 

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module

Edit Module Edit ModuleShow TagsEdit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags Edit Module
Edit ModuleShow Tags

The Latest

Get the Scoop on Up-and-Coming Crafters at Show and Sell

Taking place at Construction Junction, the spring pop-up market from Handmade Arcade will feature 30 local makers selling home decor, clothing and art.

The City's Free Grass Cutting Service is Back for Its Second Year

There’s four different ways to apply — do you qualify?

Kennywood Earns Designation as Certified Autism Center

With noise-cancelling headphones and sensory bags, park officials hope its summertime fun can be accessible for more families.

For Three Days, Sesame Street Will be in Pittsburgh

Kids can join Big Bird, Elmo and more Muppets as Sesame Workshop plans three days of events during a stop in Pittsburgh in June.

Penguins’ Lament: ‘To an Extent We Beat Ourselves’

The answer to a self-inflicted postseason sweep must begin with getting the players and their coach back on the same page regarding what’s required for survival in the playoffs.

Picklesburgh to Double in Size for Its Fifth Year

Nation’s top speciality food festival to spill out onto Ft. Duquesne Boulevard.

A Look at The Latest Restaurant Openings in Pittsburgh

Pittsburgh says hello to Alta Via, Leo. A Public House, a new Milk Shake Factory location and more.

Is Your Pittsburgh Street on This Year's Road Repaving List?

The City of Pittsburgh has announced its street paving plan for 2019. You’re one click away from finding out if your street or route to work is on the list.

Downtown Pittsburgh Remains a Classic Rock Haven

PM intern Amanda Myers recounts the radio-rock adventures that life as a Downtown student has made possible.

The 400-Word Review: Master Z: Ip Man Legacy

The latest chapter in the Hong Kong martial-arts franchise gets a Pittsburgh release.

The 400-Word Review: The Curse of La Llorona

The latest chapter in the Conjuring franchise concerns a sinister spirit from folklore.

Details Shine in Metallic Hip-Hop Wedding

A graffiti-decorated cake, a sequined jacket for the groom and a violinist playing hip-hop covers wowed guests at this Strip District wedding.

New Restaurants Coming to Smallman Galley and Federal Galley

Look for New Mexican cuisine, customizable chicken and more as half of the Pittsburgh Galley Group concepts change in the next few months.

Design Goes to the Dogs with BARKitecture

Featuring innovative indoor animal shelters designed by local architects and artists going up for auction, the event at PerLora raises money for Animal Friends.

The 400-Word Review: Hellboy

The cult comic character gets a reboot in this R-rated action flick.