Sky Cinema Premiere: A Star is Born review

Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga are fantastic in this acclaimed romantic drama.

Choose from a huge selection of brand-new and classic films with Sky Cinema's 11 live channels and vast on-demand library. Now available to stream is the brilliant Academy Award-nominated romantic drama A Star is Born

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The third remake of a film originally released all the way back in 1937, Bradley Cooper’s directorial debut is a compelling and incredibly charming romantic drama which is also surprisingly powerful in the way it takes an honest look at what it’s like to be in a relationship with an addict.

The story is pretty simple and more or less the same as the one from all of the other versions. Cooper plays Jackson Maine, a rugged (is there any other way for him to be?), gravelly-voiced country music star who’s battling serious alcoholism.

On the hunt for more booze after a concert one night, he happens across Ally (Lady Gaga) a waitress singing in a bar. He’s immediately impressed by her rendition of La Vie En Rose and they spend the night getting to know each other. 

They perform a duet at his next gig which prompts him to invite her along on tour where they begin a romantic relationship. She later signs with sleazy record producer Rez (Rafi Gavron) and becomes a huge success while he descends ever deeper into depression and alcoholism

A Star is Born marks Lady Gaga’s first major big screen role and she’s absolutely fantastic. Her insecure Ally is refreshingly earnest, sweet without seeming naive and very likeable. 

You really want her to succeed so seeing her confidence grow, illustrated brilliantly during their joint performance of Shallow as her facial expressions and body language change to become much more open, and get swept off her feet is a joy to watch. 

She and Cooper share electric chemistry which is the other reason as to why the film works so well. With anyone else the scene in the bar where he’s encouraging her to follow her dreams and tender insistence that she’s beautiful would sound horribly cheesy, but here it just feels genuinely loving. 

All of the film’s musical performances are stunning (Shallow being a particular highlight because of how good the song is) and crackle with that hard-to-replicate excitement due to them being filmed during actual festivals. 

Gaga is obviously a huge musical talent but Cooper is more than capable of holding his own alongside her. He impressively trained for a full year with Willie Nelson’s son Lukas to ensure he could properly sing and play guitar for the film. 

Cooper too, gives a superb overall performance as a very tragic character. Maine is fun and loveable when sober but cruel and hurtful when he’s drunk. 

His addiction is dealt with very well. We sympathize with him when we learn about what led him down that road, his talking about his troubled childhood voice thick with emotion and sad, wide eyes is heartbreaking to watch, but at the same time, the film doesn’t shy away from showing how incredibly destructive his addiction is to the people he loves. 

A strong supporting performance from Sam Elliot shows Maine’s older brother and manager Bobby as someone who clearly cares for him but isn’t sure how much longer he can stand being snapped at and cleaning up his messes all the time.

Ally makes lots of sacrifices for her husband only to have him then publicly embarrass her at the Grammys and call her ugly during fierce arguments. His addiction is never once glamourized with that tortured artist trope or shown to have an easy fix. 

This all culminates in an ending that I won't spoil here but packs a real emotional punch.

What is at its heart a basic and familiar love story is elevated to new heights by its two irresistibly charming leads, the sparkling chemistry they share and amazing musical performances. These winning elements combine to make this modern remake of A Star is Born a sweet, poignant film that comes highly recommended.

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