Cert 15 135mins Stars 2
Extrovert pop star Lady Gaga gives a 21st century gloss to this dated, ego-driven and tone deaf musical drama.
This third remake of the 1937 original cleaves closely to the Barbara Streisand and Kris Kristofferson 1976 version in story, tone and nuclear-grade levels of indulgence, courtesy of the multi-tasking Bradley Cooper.
As producer, director, co-writer and star, Cooper offers a mumbling and stumbling turn as ageing alcoholic rocker, Jackson Maine, who thrusts a waitress called Ally to singing superstardom after he discovers her performing in a drag bar.
Cooper is clearly indulging a long held ambition to unleash his inner rock god, which is never a good look for a man over 40, as my 7 year old will tell you.
Known to her parents as Stefani Germanotta, Gaga is a magnetic and affecting presence in her first lead role as Ally, and is unsurprisingly at her best when she unleashes her awesome vocal power. These are the films best and most successful moments, something even beyond Cooper’s ability to get wrong.
A relationship develops between the pair, and we see how the self pitying man-child, Jackson, is unable to cope with Ally’s growing success, with her having to manage his controlling and bullying manner.
There’s no reflection on how the music industry has massively changed since Streisand’s day and social media is almost entirely absent.
Worse, the script demonstrates a tin ear for contemporary issues such as the #metoo movement. There’s an astonishingly lack of judgement in romanticising the behaviour of a rich, famous and powerful older man who marries and abuses his wife and protege, and then to offer his character a note of nobility.
From tinnitus to a sad back-story, Cooper pulls out every stop to afford Jackson sympathy but he’s seemingly unaware the singer’s behaviour is cowardly and weak, making the signature tune, ‘The Shallow’, unintentionally appropriate.