Watching a twenty-first century version of “A Star is Born” is a strange experience. On the one hand, the film is well-made, with star-director-screenwriter Bradley Cooper delivering a solid performance (even if it sometimes comes across as an impersonation of Kris Kristofferson’s performance in the 1976 version), while the dialogue and camera work are consistently strong. In addition, Lady Gaga makes for an intriguing leading lady in her first major Hollywood role, and it’s obvious that she’s taking the role very seriously. However, by the time the movie’s second half rolls around, things get choppy: There appears to be scenes missing from the narrative, resulting in a half-realized dynamic between Cooper and onscreen brother Sam Elliot that often feels jarring, while Gaga’s progression from unknown performer to major pop star is glossed over. The chemistry between Cooper and Gaga seems to have dissipated by the second half as well, which nullifies the emotional impact required for the film to work as a cohesive whole. The music is good if unremarkable for the most part, although the onscreen duo’s performance of “Shallow” could peel the paint off the walls, making you wish there were more numbers like it. Ultimately it’s not that the movie is bad, it’s that it could have – and should have been – much better than merely okay.
Rating: ★★★ (out of 5)