(director/writer: Bradley Cooper; screenwriters: Will Fetters/Eric Roth/based on a story by William A. Wellman and Robert Carson; cinematographer: Matthew Libatique; editor: Jay Cassidy; music: Lady Gaga, Bradley Cooper, Lukas Nelson, Jason Isbell, Mark Ronson, Andrew Wyatt, Julia Michaels, Justin Tranter, Diane Warren; cast: Lady Gaga (Alla), Bradley Cooper (Jackson Maine), Sam Elliott (Bobby), Andrew Dice Clay (Lorenzo), Rez Gavron (Rez Gavron), Dave Chappelle ( George “Noodles” Stone), Rebecca Field (Gail), Michael Harney (Wolfie), Greg Gunberg (Phil, Jack’s driver), Michael D. Roberts(Matty), William Belli (Emerald), Anthony Ramos.(Ramon), Alec Baldwin (himself); Runtime: 135; MPAA Rating: R; producers: Bill Gerber, Jon Peters, Bradley Cooper, Todd Phillips, Lynette Howell Taylor; Warner Bros.; 2018)

The directing debut for the actor Bradley Cooper is a good one.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

The fourth remake of a story that dates back to 1932 is an energized one, with vibrant rock music, fine acting and stylish visuals. Though the pedestrian dialogue was a turn-off and the movie itself even if entertaining was far from exceptional. No longer about Hollywood, the narrative shifts gears to the music industry. It still tells the familiar Hollywood tragic weepie love story of one self-destructive star burning out and the other innocent newcomer rising to become a star. The directing debut for the actor Bradley Cooper is a good one.

The first starring role for Lady Gaga is a great one, following the others who also did well in this role through the years: such as Janet Gaynor (1937), Judy Garland (1954) and Barbra Streisand (1976). The best version until this one is the Garland vehicle, while the most unbearable one is the Streisand one.

Cooper co-writes with Will Fetters and Eric Roth, who base it on a story by William A. Wellman and Robert Carson. Country rocker Jackson “Jack” Maine (Bradley Cooper), at the top of his game, performs Pearl Jam as if he could sing with them. After the gig he rides around town with his limo driver Phil (Greg Gunberg) until he finds a drag bar, where the lip-syncing drag queens allow only one real woman, Ally (Lady Gaga), to sing and she chooses to do the Edith Piaf French song “La vie en rose.” Jack’s impressed by everything about her and it’s love at second sight, after he removes her makeup. We observe that Jack might still be a great guitarist singer even if he’s really a mess–gulping down pills, doing lines of coke, boozing it up before and after the show, and dealing with a troubling hearing problem by trying to ignore the sound advice from his caring older but contentious brother Bobby (Sam Elliott) to get an operation. Jack wins Ally over with soft talk and seizes the moment when she quits her dead-end day waitress job, as he takes her along with her best friend Ramon (Anthony Ramos)on his private jet to join him in his live show. Once there he brings her onstage to sing a duet of her original song. Naturally Ally’s career takes off from then on thanks to a YouTube recording of it and a big-time shark-like British agent Rez (Rafi Gavron) schemes to make her a super-star by getting her a record contract, adding dancers to her act and giving her a slick pop star look. It follows the same predictable tract as in the other versions, but the music (written by Lady Gaga and Cooper with Mark Ronson, Jason Isbell and Willie Nelson’s son Lukas) in this version is livelier and fresher. Andrew Dice Clay gives a nice performance as Ally’s limo-driver father, whose dreams that he could have been as good as Frank Sinatra goes for comic relief and that he fully supports his daughter for trying to be a singing star no matter her hard times. The film goes on for too long as both weariness and sentimentality creeps in. Jack in the sluggish middle-part struggles as a washed-up country rocker with troubling addiction problems while Ally, now his wife, finds that her career is stymied only because she won’t split from loser husband. But the festival concerts, the SNL sketch,

The Grammy show and the workings of the musical business all seemed presented in a credible manner. When it ends as expected in tragedy, what we remember is that Cooper and Lady Gaga sing great together giving the film the star treatment that’s called for to win us over. What I never bought into was the film’s bogus message that a singer must be honest to reach an audience who want only to hear what comes from the singer’s heart. If it could have done that for the whole film instead of for just the first part, it would have been a special film instead of just a well-regarded crowd-pleasing enjoyable soap opera one.

REVIEWED ON 10/6/2018 GRADE: B+   https://dennisschwartzreviews.com/

Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”