It’s taken a long road to get “A Star Is Born” back onto the big screen for a fourth time, but it’s been worth the wait as Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga truly make this film spark. Yes, Clint Eastwood had Beyonce in mind for the lead role at one time, but you’ll quickly forget that the minute Gaga steps onto the screen.
The response to Cooper’s romantic saga “A Star Is Born” has been intense. Critics have boasted of crying uncontrollably. Fans outside theaters have swooned for its star, Lady Gaga. Words like “glorious,” ″rapturous” and, of course, “gaga” are running rampant.
“Having been on the other side of it, when you do something that doesn’t do well, people tend to avoid you,” Cooper said in an interview alongside his co-star. “I don’t see people, like, going the other way as I’m walking down the street.”
Quite the contrary. Since making landfall at the Toronto International Film Festival, “A Star Is Born” has provoked the kind of mania rarely seen in even the feverish realm of a film festival. It’s been hailed as “a transcendent Hollywood movie” (per Variety) and “damned near perfect” (per Rolling Stone).
And it has predictably flown to the top of Oscar prediction lists in just about every category, including its original songs. It’s a breakthrough for Cooper, directing for the first time, and Gaga, who’s leading a movie for the first time.
“I have been trying not to read any reviews. But every once in a while, my friends will read over and go (shoving phone in face): ‘You have to see this!’” says Gaga. “But I have to say truly, I feel like an audience member now. Watching the film back, it really impacts me on a deep emotional level.”
“I think what would be wonderful is that we intervene early in life when we see people struggling,” Lady Gaga said. “I think fame is very unnatural. I think it’s important we guide artists and take care of them on a physical level as they rise.” She noted that most people thought celebrities change, but she felt like it was more that those around them did.
And it seems to be impacting those in the audience similarly. Even its trailer, watched by millions on YouTube, has sparked a rare eagerness. Anthony Ramos, who plays a friend of Gaga’s character in the film, said he’s been constantly harangued about details making the film.
“It’s lighting in a bottle, man,” said Ramos. “From the moment I stepped on set, the way Bradley works and the way Stefani works, I was like, ‘This could be crazy.’ And sure enough, here we are and people are buggin’ out.”
Acclaim hasn’t been universal for “A Star Is Born,” which stars Cooper as the seasoned rock star Jackson Maine and Gaga as a struggling artist he falls in love with. Its sheer popularity is certain to engender the kinds of waves of backlash that are typical of any big cultural force parading through Oscar season.
Warner Bros. will release the film Oct. 5 and is planning a sizable awards campaign. It’s the third remake of the original 1937 film, following the 1954 version with Judy Garland and James Mason, and the more rocking 1976 version, with Barbra Streisand and Kris Kristofferson.
This remake was initially developed with Clint Eastwood directing and Beyonce potentially starring. Cooper first discussed the role with Eastwood, his “American Sniper” director, before ultimately taking the directing reins himself. In a gesture of encouragement, Eastwood visited the set the first day of shooting.
For Lady Gaga, the experience was transformational. She dyed her hair her natural color. She and Cooper performed songs live.
“There can be a 100 people in the room and 99 don’t believe in you, and just one does. And it can change everything,” Gaga said at the press conference. “I wouldn’t be here if Bradley didn’t believe me. My dad, and also Bradley.”
“I wanted to give everything that I had, every last drop of blood, all my fear, all my shame, all my love, all my kindness,” she added. “I wanted to give it to him.”
5 Things To Know About “A Star Is Born”
1. Lady Gaga is a movie star, baby
That Gaga had pipes worthy of a movie musical was never in doubt. But A Star is Born proves she’s a hell of an actor, too. Her Ally has the more dramatic arc of the movie, evolving from bright-eyed nobody to glamorous pop star, and Gaga’s performance rings true every step of the way. For large swaths of the movie, I forgot that I was watching at one of the most famous musicians in the world – she was just Ally.
2. Bradley Cooper has a bright future as a director
A Star is Born is Bradley Cooper’s debut as a director, but you’d never know it by watching. This film has the surefootedness of someone who’s done this a dozen times before and made me curious to see what he might get up to next.
Oh, and another of Cooper’s gifts as a director? He’s very good at directing one Bradley Cooper. Jackson Maine is one of Cooper’s most riveting performances – Cooper knows exactly how to bring out the nuances playing across Jack’s face in the many scenes he spends gazing at Ally.
3. The chemistry between Cooper and Gaga is 🔥🔥🔥
When Jack and Ally meet for the first time, it’s not immediately apparent just how hot this connection is going to run. Cooper gives his characters time to warm up to each other, letting them goof around and reveal their personalities before they fall for each other – so that when they do finally connect, it feels like watching a house catch fire.
4. The music might give you chills
The best moment in A Star is Born is also the best moment from the A Star is Born trailer: The absolute wail that comes from Gaga’s throat during the song “Shallow,” the first time Jack and Ally perform together onstage. It’s such a transcendent moment that I swelled up before realizing I was about to cry, and started crying before I really figured out why.
The rest of the soundtrack is pretty solid, too. Gaga does a fun cover of “La Vie en Rose,” and Cooper reveals himself as a surprisingly affecting singer with numbers like “Maybe It’s Time.” Get used to these songs. You’re going to hear them a lot for the next few months.
5. This is going to win so many awards and make so much money
Let me reiterate what I said before: A Star is Born is going to be huge. It looks like the kind of broadly appealing crowdpleaser that’ll have long legs at the box office, like Crazy Rich Asians or The Greatest Showman. Your parents will love it. So will your roommate, and your significant other, and your co-workers, and just about anyone else you might go to the movies with.
Including that one friend of yours who’s always going on about awards season, because A Star is Born also looks poised to get a bunch of nominations – for the soundtrack, for Gaga and Cooper’s performances, for Cooper’s work behind the camera as co-writer and director, and maybe even for the Best Picture categories.