If you are a human being who worries that you are dead inside, that you may have no emotions left to give, that your soul has been crushed so many times that there’s no way a single tear could be shed in the name of cinema – yet, you’re not exactly sure and you need one final test – then Bradley Cooper’s iteration of A Star is Born (which screened on Friday at the Toronto International Film Festival) is your last litmus test. If you do not cry during this movie, then, yes, you might be dead inside.
Bradley Cooper has had one of the more interesting trajectories in recent film history. It was only 10 years ago Cooper was playing “fun drinking buddy” in a movie like the forgettable Jim Carrey vehicle, Yes Man. (Before I go on, it’s also of note that Ant-Man and the Wasp director Peyton Reed directed Yes Man, so Yes Man alumni apparently have a lot of success stories.) Before that he was Sack in Wedding Crashers. And then he became famous in The Hangover. Now, out of the blue, Bradley Cooper has directed a movie that is best summed up as “phenomenal” (which is why I used that word in the headline). Seriously: utterly phenomenal. Look, “hype” sucks. I had heard so much hype before I saw A Star is Born, there was part of me looking for anyway to find something in this movie that went against the hype. No, I’m sorry, the hype is warranted.
Cooper is a first-time director, but he’s been around the block enough to know to hire a pro as his cinematographer. And he hired Matthew Libatique, who has directed most of Darren Aronofsky’s films. You don’t’ need to know a lot about Libatique, but know Cooper was smart enough to hire the person who shot Black Swan. Regardless, the result is absolutely gorgeous. Of all things you’d think A Star is Born would be, “one of the best looking films of the year” isn’t something I would have guessed.
(This is the part where I acknowledge there have been, count ‘em, now four versions of this movie. I don’t want to spend a lot of time on this because I just assume you know this, but in case you didn’t, well now you do.)