This fierce character study is one of the best movies of the 1970s, blessed with a ferocious lead performance by Bette Midler and an extraordinary rock soundtrack that could peel the paint off the walls. Midler gamely and fearlessly throws herself into her role as a doomed rock singer: This is a landmark performance for the ages, with Midler alternately beaming with superstar charisma and crumbling in heart-wrenching distress, while her live performances during the concert sequences are electrifying. Alan Bates and Frederic Forrest have a number of standout scenes in supporting roles, and director Mark Rydell has a knack for dramatic shots that enhance the narrative’s drama while sidestepping the melodrama at the movie’s core. It’s the type of grand, in-your-face cinema that could only have happened in the 1970s, and it’s one of the best dramas I’ve had the pleasure of seeing.
Rating: ★★★★★ (out of 5)