When the reviews for this film started to come out, full of praise and admiration for yet another imaginative retelling of the story of success and failure in the music industry, I have to admit I was sceptical. It didn’t seem like the type of film I’d enjoy. I am pleased to admit that I was completely wrong.
Aspiring singer Ally (Lady Gaga) has a chance encounter with successful musician and barely-functioning alcoholic and drug addict Jackson Maine (Bradley Cooper, basically unrecognisable and brilliant) when she sings at a bar he’s attending. A whirlwind night involving singing in a car park, a fight and a drunken trip round a supermarket ends up changing her life.
Ally’s rise to fame, initially built on her connection to Jackson is stratospheric and soon she is signed by the banally evil manager Rez Gavron (Rafi Gavron) who helps create the image of Ally which is miles away from the innocent, raw talent she first displayed on stage with Jackson. Meanwhile, Jackson’s inner demons rear their heads, as he struggles with Ally’s new-found fame, confidence and image and his own failing career.
A directorial debut for Bradley Cooper, whose confidence in the role delivers a stunningly visual film. The overwhelming lights on stage are captured in the opening performance, as Jackson appears at a concert and sings wildly to an enraptured audience, the camera swirling around him in a disconcerting manner while he struts about the stage with all the confidence of a seasoned rock star. The cinematography on the whole is beautiful, bright lights contrast with the calm interiors of Jackson and Ally’s house – the madness in the spotlights versus the personal spaces of the characters.
Lady Gaga too is a revelation. She has always been a performer of the highest order, but here she captures the raw talent that sent her to stardom, while capturing the vulnerability and lack of confidence that lies close to Ally’s surface.
This film will devastate you, make you laugh and make you cry. The Oscar buzz already formed around the film is well, well deserved.