It looks like the buzz and hype were real: A Star Is Born is coming out of the gates with a full “HAAAAAAAA AH AH AH AHHHHH” and finding critics falling over themselves to praise the film, Bradley Cooper’s direction and the performance and starpower of the Lady Gaga.
The Playlist’s Jessica Kiang says:
It’s particularly good in its rousing, delightful, chemistry-laden first half that is launched like a rocket by the onstage footage of Cooper’s Jack Maine, washing down some pills with a slug of iced gin before stepping out under the swirling lights and throatily roaring some rawk against a backwash of crunching reverb. Unlike many similar semi-musical films, in which the tracks grind the storytelling to a halt, here the music, almost wholly originally composed for the film, does a fair bit of narrative heavy lifting from the beginning. Gently prophetic lyrics that are all about letting go of old things, longing for change when things are going well, and only really feeling like yourself when they’re going badly are complemented by Matthew Libatique‘s lovely, flare-y and immersive handheld concert sequences, that make Jack’s band look like hardworking ’70s folk-rockers and make Coachella feel like Woodstock.
Entertainment Weekly’s Leah Greenblatt:
But it’s Cooper, in his directing debut, who ultimately has to carry the film from both sides. In interviews he’s talked about working to drop his voice to a deeper register, and his Jackson is a sort of drawling, denim-clad cowboy-poet very much in the mode of Kris Kristofferson’s iconic 1976 iteration and Jeff Bridges’ Oscar-winning turn in Crazy Heart — an archetype whose familiarity lives somewhere between sincere tribute and Marlboro Man cliché. (He also works in shades of Sam Elliott, who appears in a few pivotal scenes as his much-older brother–slash–manager, and maybe some other Sam in there too: the late, great Shepard).
The Guardian’s Peter Bradshaw:
For all that it’s hokum, this film alludes tactlessly to something pretty real. It could be called: A Star Is Dying. The new generation supplants the existing one. For one star to get an award, a handful of defeated nominees have to swallow their pain, as the spotlight moves away from them. For one star to deliver the shock of the new, another one has to receive the shock of the old. A Star Is Born turns that transaction into a love story.
Variety’s Owen Gleiberman:
“A Star Is Born” is that thing we always yearn for but so rarely get to see: a transcendent Hollywood movie. It’s the fourth remake of a story that dates back to 1932, but this one has a look and vibe all its own — rapturous and swooning, but also delicate and intimate and luminous. It’s set in the present day, but in spirit it’s a sophisticated retro ’70s drama built around the uncanny flow of feeling that develops between the movie’s two stars: Bradley Cooper, who plays Jackson Maine, a hard-drinking, bad-ol’-boy redneck rock ‘n’ roller who is still hanging on as a popular attraction but has lost the lust for what he’s doing, and Lady Gaga, in her fetching and accomplished movie-star debut, as Ally, an ingenuous, fresh-faced singer-songwriter who becomes his lover and stage partner before rocketing on her own into the new pop stratosphere.