8/10 After having watched all three previous incarnations of “A Star is Born” so I could properly compare them to the fourth version of the story and see how they stack up, I can gladly say that this version falls on the better side of these films. The 1937 original and this 2018 version are the best two, easily surpassing the 1954 and 1976 versions. It was interesting to compare all four and see the similarities and differences. This being Bradley Cooper’s directorial debut excites me to any further films he may direct. He shows a real eye for talent behind the camera and gives an Oscar nominated worthy performance here. Lady Gaga, in her big screen, leading lady debut, is perfectly cast and does a great job as well. Having Bradley Cooper’s brother be a character added a family element not seen in any previous versions and brought emotional weight along with it. Of all the versions, this was the first version that I cried in and that shows how emotionally powerful the script is. I noticed how great the cinematography was for such a straight forward drama without a ton of flair or over stylization and then once the end credits rolled I realized that one of the best cinematographers working today, Matthew Libatique (“The Fountain”, “Black Swan”) shot the film to impressive results. I was worried that this film even needed to be made after having been made so many times before but Cooper and the screenwriters are able to make this version feel fresh and be the most emotional one to date. One negative I will say is that in other previous versions, the Bradley Cooper character had warned the Lady Gaga character about being with him due to his destructive habits. He had admitted his love but cautioned her to stand her distance because he couldn’t guarantee that things would end well. This version took that out and that was something I really liked and admired about the previous versions that I wish would have stayed in. Another aspect to consider is the music itself. Overall, most of the songs here are really well done and “Shallow” is probably the front runner to win Best Original Song at the Oscars. This has some great songs but a few of the songs are also very forgettable, leaving the end result to be a bit of a mixed bag. “Shallow” is the best song and deserving of any accolades it receives. Overall this is a worthwhile remake (a rarity these days) with some solid music, amazing performances and strong direction, cinematography and editing. The film’s title may refer to Lady Gaga’s character but I think the real star being born is Bradley Cooper as a film director.
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