starring Bradley Cooper, Lady Gaga, Andrew Dice Clay, Sam Elliott
screenplay by Eric Roth and Bradley Cooper & Will Fetters
directed by Bradley Cooper
by Angelo Muredda It says a lot about A Star Is Born, Bradley Cooper's directorial debut, that the most emotionally cathartic stuff pours out as freely in the incredible trailer and its savviest meme offspring, where diva Pokémon Jigglypuff croons the entrancing opening bars of Lady Gaga's big stage debut for a rapt audience, than it does in the actual film, a polished first-act pitch in search of a payoff. That everything after the titular birth seems like apocrypha, weirdly playing both too long and as if it's running at 1.5x speed, is disappointing given the first act's charm offensive, though you can't put the blame squarely on the multi-hyphenate's already-overtaxed shoulders. It's probably asking too much of this third official crack at material first made into a vehicle for Janet Gaynor in 1937 to expect it to offer a wholly fresh take on a vaguely eugenic premise about how one half of a creative power couple can only thrive while the other languishes in obscurity. A first-time helmer with a stake in how his character's tragic narrative trajectory plays out, Cooper seems at once fired up by the meet-cute potential of the premise, which he nails, and stuck at a creative crossroads with the more melancholy, sepia-toned stuff that probably first drew the previously-attached Clint Eastwood's attention.