Have you ever had the feeling that you’re living in an alternative reality?
I recently watched the highly acclaimed, enthusiastically reviewed, multi-Oscar nominated remake of A Star is Born, featuring the celebrated Lady Gaga and Hollywood heart-throb Bradley Cooper, who also directed the film.
The remake of the Judy Garland, James Mason film, (or the Barbara Streisand, Kris Kristofferson version), has been hailed as an artistic triumph and was widely tipped to take out a bagful of Academy Awards. I just can’t for the life of me figure out why. And obviously I wasn't alone. It was largely overlooked at the Oscars.
Actually this is a bit of a shocker. A predictable and unnecessary regurgitation of a worn out narrative of a faltering white male star who raises a talented woman (held back by her large nose) from the drag bar she sings in, (when she's not waiting tables) to the heights of hollow fame while he spirals out of control and falls from grace. We are buried under a mountain of cliches from beginning to end.
Admittedly the Lady’s screen debut is impressive and she might have saved the day if the writers had given her anything useful to work with in the second half of the film.
The irony of the whole thing is that Gaga’s most compelling performance comes at the outset when she does her Edith Piaf take in the drag bar Cooper’s character has stumbled into.
Things looked promising here, even if you didn’t mind the fact that the scene is largely stolen from Burlesque, which in turn stole it from Liza Minnelli's Cabaret.
The film has a large number of musical sequences, and to be fair, if this is your sort of music, there is more to enjoy here.
Nevertheless, the logic of the narrative is puzzling at times. Cooper’s character complains that his rising star wife is losing her soul as she is transformed by a management team from torch singer to a Madonna/Beyonce clone.
I’m not sure whether we are meant to accept this as a truth (rather than the rumblings of a jealous husband) or whether her new musical style, complete with dancers, is meant to be a positive career move that we are meant to celebrate, particularly as it wins her a coveted Grammy award.
It’s also extraordinarily hard to accept that the “snake in the grass” manager (not another one) can influence Cooper’s character to hang himself as a means of assisting his wife’s burgeoning career.
Kurt Cobain and Courtney Love did a better job of playing this stereotype out in real life.