Bradley Cooper And Lady Gaga Are A Multiplex-Friendly Erotic Fantasy Pairing In ‘A Star Is Born’

Senior Editor
10.05.18 38 Comments

Warner Bros

I used to joke that we should start a crowdfunding site where if we raised enough money, we could pay two celebrities to have sex. The site would be called “F*ckstarter.” I mention this because A Star Is Born is basically “Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga: Unlikely F*ckstarter.” It’s a fantasy relationship, between two people we never knew we wanted to see together, but find we suddenly need, desperately.

Bradley Cooper plays Jackson Maine, some kind of a country-fried rock star who discovers Ally (Gaga) singing so well at a drag bar that she brings him to tears. Lady Gaga, made up as a man made up as a woman, singing a French song for drag queens — it’s kind of perfect. Jackson, a wobbly but good-natured drunk who prefers gin on the rocks, decides he has to meet her, and the courtship is on.

The courtship consists largely of Jackson making overtures that would be over-familiar if he wasn’t simultaneously making her feel safe, while Ally gradually allows herself to be vulnerable. Even his drunkenness, which usually makes a man seem erratic or unpredictable (ie, more dangerous), in his case seems to make him feel safer, too tottering to trap her anywhere. Of course, it helps that he’s famous. His unconventionally erotic gestures include: removing her stuck-on eyebrows and licking her fingers to help her remove her rings. They also sing impromptu songs to each other, which you won’t entirely buy but probably won’t care.

Throughout, Cooper and his DP, Matthew Libatique, have two incredibly effective shots that they use over and over. One is an erotic, over the shoulder shot that captures the gleam of anticipation in the flirtee’s eye, evoking the excitement, tension, suspense of looking for/waiting for that first kiss. Relationships rarely get more thrilling and scary than that initial consummation, that confirmation of mutual attraction. It’s like G-rated POV porn, and weirdly more exciting that way.

The other shot is a variation on the old Spielberg face, a slow push in or hold on one character staring in awe at another while they sing, touched to the core by the power of the music. It’s like sweetening the audio, kind of a trick, but it works, especially helpful in a movie that’s essentially a musical, with music as a metaphor for sex. When the drag queens hassle Jackson into singing for them, he asks what he should sing, and a drag queen says “Whatever you want, honey, as long as you look at me while doing it.”

It’s basically the filmmakers acknowledging their own trick. Yes, we see what you did there, and we like it.

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