In these trying times, a great on-screen love story is the escape we all need – and Bradley Cooper’s directorial debut A Star Is Born is just the film to do that job. In case you missed it, the actor cast Lady Gaga to play opposite him in her first major movie role, and both are garnering Oscar buzz already. If you’re counting down to Thursday, when the movie officially hits cinemas, let us tide you over with five reasons this one’s a must-see.
But first, a quick synopsis: Cooper plays Jackson Maine, a world-famous country-rock musician whose long career in the spotlight has lead to a steady alcohol and drug habit. Longing for anonymity, he stumbles into a bar for a late-night drink and ends up meeting Ally (Gaga), a gifted but struggling songwriter. The two form an instant connection and *spoiler alert* she becomes his musical protégée and lover. Cue an intense and relatable look at the highs and lows of a relationship, set against the heady backdrop of the music world.
1. The performances
Cooper worked with a vocal coach to hone the deep southern drawl that makes his character so swoon-worthy, and had guitar lessons to perfect his on-stage credibility. He’s brilliantly believable as Maine, and the scenes where he surrenders to his vices (and attempts to recover from them) are the film’s most moving.
Gaga proved her acting chops when she won a Golden Globe for her role in American Horror Story: Hotel, but she scales new heights in A Star is Born. This isn’t the stage-ready, Performance Art Gaga we’re used to – it’s a stripped back version (think no make-up, singing A capella in a carpark). Her transformation into a commercial artist is captivating, as are her emotionally fuelled scenes with Cooper.
2. The soundtrack
Cooper and Gaga wrote and recorded the entire soundtrack, and captured many of the film’s performances live. If it feels like you’re watching the duo on stage at a real festival, it’s because you are – the two shot scenes together at Coachella in 2017, when Gaga invited the actor on stage to join her set. Cooper also made a surprise appearance at Glastonbury last year. The soundtrack’s standout hit – and the one likely to chart after the movie hits cinemas – is an emotional duet called Shallow. Watch it and weep - you’ve been warned.
3. Bradley Cooper’s face/abs/etc
The A-lister tends to wear his hair short and rarely sports a beard, but he goes method with the muso look for this role with a luscious mane and grizzly facial hair. It’s a seriously good look for the actor, and we dare you to watch this movie and not fall in love with him a little bit. This reviewer did. In one pivotal scene, Maine comes to the door to greet a music exec wearing only slim-cut black jeans and a belt. No one is immune to that level of sexy.
4. The cameos
The film is also a fun game of spot-the-industry-celeb. We won’t spoil it for you, but there are plenty of seasoned muso’s and actors that pop up in small roles (and a few major drag queens, too.)
5. The dog
Cooper’s fluffy pet pup Charlie, which he shares with longtime love Irina Shayk in real life, has an adorable cameo of his own – and hands-down steals the show. While we couldn't find a picture of Cooper's pup, here's a gorgeous photo of his family!
A Star is Born is in cinemas on Thursday.