The basic building blocks that make A Star Is Born a story forever strong shine oh-so-brightly in this fourth version, directed by Bradley Cooper from the screenplay he co-wrote with Eric Roth and Will Fetters.
Famous boy stumbles upon talented regular girl. Newcomer’s talent (and natural beauty) quickly win over flawed but still charming legend. His celebrity helps her find her own footing. Their personal lives become a rollercoaster of love, despair and so many highs and lows in between.
It worked in the 30s, 50s and 70s, and that 1976 effort became a hallmark movie for leads Barbra Streisand and Kris Kristofferson, gaining them Golden Globe awards and winning an Oscar for best music.
With Cooper as calloused cowboy Jackson Maine and Lady Gaga as the wide-eyed singer he found in a drag bar Ally, this latest edition has plenty to take on its own identity.
Jackson is a complex man trying to forget about his drinking father, failing hearing and complex relationship with his older brother. He drinks way too much. (Yes, this does sound like Kristofferson’s John Norman Howard.) Ally is a talented songwriter who’s too shy about her looks, especially her prominent nose, to sing her own songs on stage. (OK, this is a nod to Streisand’s Esther Hoffman.)
Put them together, though, and they balance each other out.
Cooper is terrific as the flawed older musician, taking on the singing with gusto; the craggy, shaggy hard stuff with a hard edge; and his affection for all things truly Ally with a gleam in his eye.
Gaga is a star as Ally, of course great of voice and also fantastic as a protective girlfriend and wife and tough rising star.
Their good times together are a joy to watch. The bad times that come from Jackson’s spiral are not.
Sam Elliott and Andrew Dice Clay as Jackson’s older brother and Ally’s dad turn in solid supporting turns. Rafi Gavron as Ally’s manager Rez gives all someone to either trust, or not.
A Columbus Day matinée in a half-full big theater at the Regal Cinemas in Syracuse mega shopping, dining and entertainment complex Destiny USA was full of tears and cheers.