Lady Gaga astonishes in debut film lead in A Star Is Born

A Star Is Born (15), (136 mins), Chichester Cineworld

A Star Is Born
A Star Is Born

An astonishing performance from Lady Gaga – and one no less so from Bradley Cooper – make A Star Is Born a remarkable cinematic experience, beautifully acted and utterly absorbing.

It’s a meditation on the perils of fame, a kind of big-screen careful what you wish for. It is also a devastating study of the cruel dangers of drink and drugs and the price they inexorably exact.

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But above all, and maybe best of all, it’s simply a cracking good story traditionally delivered. Of course, it’s a remake, but it’s a remake that stands so entirely and indeed magnificently on its own that you’ll hardly head home wanting to dig out the original.

Presumably the original was absolutely right for its own generation; Cooper’s film (he also directs) is absolutely right for now, a beautiful cautionary tale, packed with an emotion that never for a moment gushes over. It drags you in from the moment rock megastar Jackson Maine pops the pills that enable him to go on stage.

And then he tumbles into the booze that brings him down afterwards – which is when he randomly picks the bar where he chances on struggling singer Ally (Lady Gaga).

Maine instantly senses she can offer him what he needs, just as she does vice versa.

The stand-out scene in the movie comes soon afterwards as he coaxes her onto the stage to deliver her own song in front of his audience of thousands – the moment a star is born.

But there is a high price to pay for that stardom.

As Jackson succumbs to his drink and drugs demons, Ally finds herself being forced into a weird-hair-coloured pop princess role with backing dancers. You wonder if the irony is lost on Lady Gaga herself as she portrays someone forced to become someone she most definitely isn’t. And yet she wants the acclaim...

Bizarrely for a film this length, it never seems a moment too long, helped by some superb songs exceptionally well-delivered and performances which never lose their plausibility.

But really it is Lady Gaga’s film, however superb Cooper is alongside her. It’s her first big-screen leading role, and at the moment it is impossible to imagine anyone coming along to snatch the Oscar out of her hands next year.