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Linda Cook

Linda Cook

“A Star Is Born” absolutely dazzles in every frame.

Film Review - A Star is Born

Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper received Screen Actors Guild nominations for  their performances in "A Star is Born." 

It’s worth telling this tale again. While it takes into consideration the “A Star is Born” films from 1937, 1954 and 1976, the latest version of the rise and fall of two entertainers is don’t-miss.

Bradley Cooper, who also directs, stars as Jackson Maine, a hard-drinking, drug-abusing superstar country-rock musician who happens to hear Ally Campana (Lady Gaga) singing a beautiful rendition of “La Vie en Rose” one night.

Ally can’t believe that Jackson would want to spend time with her. He knows talent when he sees it, though, and talks to her about her longing to perform and to have an audience for her talent.

From their first moments together, she sees the other side of fame, with rabid fans who demand photos and, because of his addictions, the difficulty Jackson has maintaining life on and off stage. When she performs with him at one of his concerts, her life changes quickly: Suddenly, the two not only are lovers but they also inspire each other’s musicianship.

You won’t find a couple that has more chemistry than Gaga and Cooper. Without her lavish costumes and makeup, she looks the part of a vulnerable woman who has trouble trusting this famous stranger who obviously is besotted with her.

At the beginning, there’s a great scene in which Cooper peels off one of the fake brows she wears for her performance, as if to say “I’m going to show you the real person underneath her stage persona.”

Cooper is one of the best actors around, and he's quite a singer, too. Also, his direction is marvelous, especially during the concert scenes that show the overwhelming environment of the crowd and the lights.

The supporting cast is terrific, too, with Sam Elliott as Cooper’s brother and — surprisingly — Andrew Dice Clay giving depth and compassion to Ally’s father. Dave Chapelle is wonderful as Jackson’s longtime friend who realizes just how fragile the performer has become.

Among the stars are the songs, that range from the gorgeous Edith Piaf number and the classic “Pretty Woman” to “Always Remember Us This Way” and other tunes Gaga and Cooper helped write. This soundtrack will be a sought-after one.

The characters talk the way real people do while they face situations that are true-to-life. In every scene, I believed the people in it because of the authenticity of their dialogue and relationships.

This is grownup fare because of its adult themes and sometimes-harsh language. It’s one of the finest films of a year brimming with great cinema, and it deserves to be seen on the big screen.

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Film critic/reporter since 1985 at Quad-City Times. Society of Professional Journalists, Broadcast Film Critics Association and Alliance of Women Film Journalists member. Member of St. Mark Lutheran Church.