A remake of a remake that is a story of love, loss and all the struggles of the music world. Bradley Cooper's directorial debut is filled with amazing elements but ultimately seems lacking some core to make it all come together. Here is my full review.
I understand the Lady Gaga nation will love this film and I'll start by saying her performance truly shines. She is an amazingly electric figure whether deglossed for this movie or made up in all her tremendous Lady Gaga world. Overall her emotions seem valid and honest if a bit raw at times. Even the intimacy with Cooper comes across as genuine, but who would have a hard time being intimate with either of these "beautiful" people? Her character has a weird opening with a break up that is simply a plot device to allow her to be standoffish but in the end open to something reckless and new. But outside of this Lady Gaga really puts in a wonderful performance especially any sequence she has with Andrew Dice Clay, her father. We will keep praising the acting since that isn't the issue I had with the film. Cooper is rather stoic and distance as his Cowboy main character. Sam Elliott and Dave Chappelle are both unique characters that never get enough back story to really know why they are in the film. Elliott's character seems so important but the subplot of the older half-brother is only mentioned here and there and never with enough information. Combining these characters would have helped with the jagged disjointedness we get from them both being in the film. Andrew Dice Clay is a nice comedic touch and his banter with his group of drivers are the perfect levity needed in the first hour of the film. Ravi Gavron is the only other significant figure that brings his top acting game. He plays the slightly sleazy manager to perfection and his moments with Cooper truly sizzle as you can feel the hate.
Matthew Libatique's amazing cinematography is wonderfully captured in the epic music tour scenes. You feel like you're on this rugged road and you feel the real vastness of being a superstar musician. He also captures real intimate moments with his ability to be right in the action and yet let the natural shadows carry a unique darkness present throughout the film. Little doubt the technical team behind this movie are A list and Libatique leads the charge. The opening musical number is one of the best sequence I've seen set on the big screen. Seeing it with a great sound system really makes it something special.
Ok now with all the praise given. The film never ever reaches the amazing opening song or the early love spark we fill from the first 35-45 minutes of the film. In fact the last 30 minutes are a terrible spiral that seems so dramatic and unsettling. The writing of the songs for instance also share this terrible ebb and bottom out flow. You'll all love Shallow, but the end song is one of the most cheese filled elements of the film's closing. Basically the more Cooper's Cowboy continues to fall off the cliff the more the film does too. There is a really sad sequence with his beloved dog that could have easily ended the film but we are given another 20 minutes of crap to digest after. The subplots are rushed and never given any chance to become something as powerful as the love between Gaga and Cooper. Honestly we could have done with out the Chappelle sequence and marriage. It was hammered in to seem spontaneous but came across as fake. The pacing of the film is really badly done and lucks out in that the music sequences break up the boring repeating nature of the film's second half. The big issues honestly is that Cooper should have chosen to be Director or Star and kept with that choice but both elements are drastically downgraded by the other. He doesn't give us enough back story and pain to make his alcoholism and drug addiction seem believable. The opening and the love story are worth your time but the pacing and dull sad sap plot will make you wish you hadn't dropped $ on the tickets and all that expensive food.