Venice 2018: Bradley Cooper's 'A Star is Born' is Cheesy Yet Lovable
by Alex Billington
September 2, 2018
Sometimes a little cheesiness is just what we need. A Star is Born is the third remake of the classic 1937 film directed by William A. Wellman. This new version is another contemporary update, focusing the story on two musicians who fall in love. Bradley Cooper makes his directorial debut and stars in A Star is Born as alcoholic musician Jackson Maine. He randomly meets and falls for a young woman named Ally, played by real-life popstar Lady Gaga, originally known as Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta. This movie is so incredibly cheesy, and cliche, and surface level in every way, yet it's also so enjoyable, and so catchy, and so charming. The singing makes it all worth it, even though the rest of it is only okay. But audiences are going to fall head over heels for this epic love story, no doubt, because sometimes a little cheesiness isn't so bad.
Confession time: as of writing this review, I have not seen any of the three other A Star is Born movies. So I won't comment on them or compare them to this movie or anything else, and that's perfectly fine. As usual with remakes, they're designed to stand on their own as something new and culturally connected to what's happening today. Cooper's A Star is Born is clearly connecting with this current generation's obsession with popstars and "become famous!" talent shows like "American Idol" and "The Voice". Ally is a very talented singer-songwriter who believes her big nose and unattractive looks are the reason why she hasn't been able to get any attention in the music business. That is, until Jackson listens to her sing while drunk at a drag bar one night, and "discovers" her voice. He quickly pulls her on stage to sing with him at his next concert and the rest is history. They fall hard for each other, and we get to watch and scream and melt along with them.
The thing about this movie is - it's so appalling cheesy and cliche. Their romance and all the little moments are so overtly setup and fake and eye-rollingly schmaltzy. When he makes a ring out of a guitar string and gives it to her, the audio stops, it gets quiet as the camera zooms in on their faces. I mean come on, this is Movie Romance 101. And it never gets any better - it's so unoriginal and uninspired and obvious. They even go so far as to bring in an adorable dog which couldn't be a more obvious "aww he's so cute!" gag to make audiences fall even more uncontrollably in love with the story and everything happening in this. Which also includes the cliche alcoholic musician who just can't quit his drink, something we've seen so many times before. And of course the music industry that quickly takes advantage of Ally and makes her do things she doesn't want to do. All of that is in here and it's such a surface level look at romance, yet it's so easy to enjoy.
The consolation is that, despite all this cheesiness, it's a very entertaining, lovable movie. It made my eyes roll, but also had me tapping my foot. The songs are wonderful, thanks of course to Lady Gaga who is indeed very talented. She can barely act, but she's good enough and sings like the icon she (knows she) is. Bradley Cooper gives the greatest performance in the movie, along with Sam Elliott as his older brother/manager. Everyone will be listening to the album on repeat. And there will likely be droves of young audiences going to watch this 10 times in theaters, crying their eyes out during the final act every time. Because that's exactly what this movie is designed to do and, just like Titanic, you go along for the ride and still love it anyway. Sometimes that's exactly what we need, a bit of happy-go-lucky entertainment that makes you go "awww".
Alex's Venice 2018 Rating: 7 out of 10
Follow Alex on Twitter - @firstshowing