‘A Star is Born’ was originally acted in the 1976 film-release by the Country Music star Kris Kristofferson, with the redoubtable Barbra Streisand as his lead lady; it tells the story of an alcoholic country singer (Kristofferson) who meets a chanteuse who steals his heart… but not so-much-so that, he cannot beat his alcohol addiction. The Director and actor of the 2018 remake is the fine Bradley Cooper, who wisely chose none other than Lady GaGa to be his woman in this punchy film.
One of the fine things in the film ‘A Star Is Born’ is the original soundtrack, which is written in original songs by Lady GaGa herself, and the excellent English music producer/songwriter, Mark Ronson. Ronson has worked with the very best in pop music since the late 1990s, including Beat International, Bruno Marrs, Adele, Amy Winehouse, and the scatty but brilliant Lily Allen.
The remake begins with a huge concert given by Jackson Maine; it then cuts to some 10 or 29 miles away, to a smaller gig being sung by ‘Ally’, (Lady Gaga) who does a version of La Vie En Rose song, by Edith Piaf, the French legend. Maine (Bradley Cooper) has escaped the backstage hangers on.. and is secreted in his limo, looking to wind down in a local bar, not far from the stadium he has just sold-out. In here, he is mesmerised by this ‘Ally’ singer. They decide to leave the small bar together… and he is smitten. He wants her to come along on his jet to his next big city gig… but she has to go to work!
The film charts the lack of confidence of Ally and of Jackson trying to get her to understand her underlying talent, as a singer, and as a songwriter. And thus we are shown the difficulties in the actual craft of song-writing, as they forge songs in a note book as the sun comes up.
This is an unashamedly romantic film; and it son without it ups and downs; the main thrust of the twists and turns in this story is Jackson Maine’s inability to but down the whiskey bottle, the beer bottle…. any bottle. It’s a wonder that Ally doesn’t give up on him, and see his addiction as a rejection of her strength to want to continue being with him.
The worst of Maine’s excess comes during an Awards Ceremony, the legendary Gammy Awards…. where Ally has risen to become a hailed pop-singer-songwriter in her own right; it contrasts against Jackson Maine’s slide into slight obscurity; but then, he did little over the years to halt this slide – inexplicably preferring the the lure of the spirits bottle.
There is a sad denouement to this fine remake, which I will not reveal; it is a film worthy of going to see, not just for the story, but for the fine original soundtrack, too. Oh, and the actor/director Bradley Cooper? He can sing up there with the best of America’s Country n’ Western music stars, from Ryan Adams to Dwight Yoakam to Travis Tritt to the great Lyle Lovett… boy, can he ever. He is, along with Stefani ‘Lady GaGa’ Germanotta, the best thing about this authentically performed soundtrack to this film.