FILM REVIEW: A Star is Born

Review by Dash Wilson.


Based on the 1937 film of the same name, A Star is Born tells the story of Jackson ‘Jack’ Maine (Bradley Cooper), a famous country music star privately battling a drug and alcohol addiction. One night Jackson meets Ally (Lady Gaga) who is working at a drag bar in California when both their lives are changed forever.

Lead actor Bradley Cooper (The Hangover, American Sniper) makes his directorial debut with A Star is Born which he also co-wrote and produced. Teamed with cinematographer Matthew Libatique ASC (Black Swan, Requiem for a Dream), Cooper has created a seductive and exquisitely shot film that is as deeply moving as it is enjoyable. As a genuine fan of Libatique’s work, particularly his collaborations with Darren Aronofsky, this latest pairing was a particular stroke of genius. 

Libatique uses a highly effective mix of hand-held cameras and close-ups that bring a sense of realism that is often missing from mainstream Hollywood films. With the aid of colourist Stefan Sonnenfeld, A Star is Born literally shines from the screen. The first hour in particular stuns with its concert scenes and bubbling sense of intimacy.

But, whilst everyone seems to have an opinion of this film, it is definitely not without its faults. Its second half is particularly cliché, but still works. Lady Gaga is impressive as Ally, however, this may be in part due to the fact the story has many similarities with her own life so how much acting is really going on is questionable. The soundtrack of course is brilliant but it will be really interesting to see what Gaga does next as an actress, particularly in a less musically based film.

There is no doubt that as an overall film, A Star is Born is successful. Cooper’s obvious passion for the project shines through and elevates what is essentially an excellent remake that is let down by an average script. Did I love this film… no. Did I enjoy this film… very much.


Reviewing all five films nominated for the Academy Award for Best Cinematography in 2019, Dash Wilson is a film-lover based in Brisbane and is the resident Film Critic for Australian Cinematographer Magazine.

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