ROMANTIC DRAMA; 2hr 15min
STARRING: Lady Gaga, Bradley Cooper
Duets: Gaga and Cooper
Having wowed the cognoscenti at the Venice International Film Festival, Bradley Cooper’s directorial first has touched down in cinemas amid a blaze of rapturous publicity. Across-the-board Oscar ballyhoo abounds, along with a torrent of superlatives for Cooper’s lived-in turn before and behind the cameras and Gaga’s who-knew? portrayal of a Star on the ascendant.
That Star has her own storied history, dating back to 1937 and three previous movies. Cooper’s acute take on the emotive tale, co-written with Eric Roth and Will Fetters, casts him as leathery, shaggy, like-a-fish-drinking country-rock star Jackson Maine and a demurely brunette Gaga as Ally, a hospitality worker with dynamite pipes who takes Jackson’s fancy while performing "La Vie en rose" in a drag bar to sensational effect. At the onset, their love affair is a thrill ride for Ally, who finds herself performing alongside her studly man in his (actual!) monster stadium gigs, while further finding her potent voice as a songwriter. Jackson’s gleamy adulation is irresistible, and Ally blooms in its heated glamour, but the fundamental base note here is that what goes up…
Onstage, the energy is supercharged (not exactly headline news where Lady G is concerned). The real, gobsmacking revelation, though, is the one-two punch of singer-guitarist Cooper in soulful rocker mode and Gaga’s emergence as an artless, intuitive actress. Those hymns of praise hit every nail: Gaga and Cooper’s deep blue valentine is a leap of faith, a labour of love and a blazing rite of passage for them both.