In Movies with McGowan, staff writer Andrew McGowan looks at recently released cinematic entertainment from critical and theoretical perspectives, shedding light on their social and political significance in contemporary pop-culture.
A Star Is Born is a milestone movie for both of its leading performers. Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper play the film’s two main characters, an unlikely couple who find love and fight hardship on their journey through the music industry. In addition to its compelling story and incredible soundtrack though, A Star Is Born also serves as a first for both Gaga and Cooper. For Gaga, the movie marks the beginning of her acting career, giving the singer her premiere leading role in a feature film. Meanwhile, Cooper debuted as a director for the film, while also revealing his talents as a screenwriter, musician, and singer.
Lady Gaga has hardly appeared on the screen before. She stars in her own music videos and has played minor parts in movies such as Machete Kills and Sin City: A Dame To Kill For, but had never taken on a substantial role in a critically revered film before now. Thus, casting the pop icon as the female lead in A Star Is Born was certainly a risk. Fortunately, it was a risk worth taking, for she displays brilliant acting skills throughout the film. She conveys acute emotions, an unmistakable stage presence, and fabulous chemistry with her co-stars, especially Bradley Cooper.
Cooper certainly shows off his familiar acting chops in the movie too, but he simultaneously shines as a director for the first time. Collaboratively writing and cinematically piecing together a remarkable narrative behind the camera, Cooper could almost be mistaken for a veteran filmmaker based on his work. On-screen, Cooper also reveals his unforeseen musical aptitude, playing guitar and singing original songs in a stunningly fine-tuned voice. This becomes all the more impressive when one realizes that Cooper also co-wrote many of the songs, working alongside Lady Gaga to produce the film’s soundtrack, which has already gained mainstream popularity.
Overall, both Gaga and Cooper get to display their respectively recognizable musical and acting talents in A Star Is Born, but the pair offer so much more to the film than just the skills for which they are known. Audiences that have witnessed the multifarious talents displayed on-screen in A Star Is Born can optimistically presume that the movie will appear in more than a few categories come the Academy Awards in February.