A Star Is Born ★★★★

80
A Star Is Born is a refreshing, bracing concoction. Instead of looking back, Bradley Cooper's debut peers forward while clinging to the inherent qualities of big-time melodrama, offering a woozy, open-hearted epic drunkenly made out of order and tidiness. All the right pieces are put in the strangest shape, but the result is frequently brilliant. Cooper will zero in on small touches and little intimate details that fuel the maximal concert sequences, which DP Matthew Libatique stages with Gaga's central force of gravity and Cooper's supporting struggles. Every song is memorable and offers a glimpse into the interiority of the characters at the time, juxtaposing the bang of music performance with Cooper's quiet, tactile approach. He'll take a twenty minute plot point and narrow it down to just two cuts, and the traditional elements are slowed down, flipped on their head, and released into calmer waters. An effortless crowd-pleaser cinema from the guy who my dad once called "the man who wants an Oscar more than anyone in the history of movies."

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