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A Star Is Born

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A Star is Born, the unashamedly romantic love story of Jack (Bradley Cooper, also director) and Ally (Lady Gaga), is a well-known tale. Three previous films - from 1937 (Gaymor and March), 1954 (Garland and Marron) and 1976 (Streisand and Kristofferson) - explore the problems endemic in a relationship when one star is rising and the other is descending.

The gender politics of the industry are mirrored by the wider social patriarchy. Ally's relationships with manager Rez (Ravi Gavron) and the friendship circle of her father - Andrew Dice Clay playing parental pride typically, with humour - demonstrate this.

Whilst Cooper directs himself well, Lady Gaga steals every scene as a natural who, whilst experiencing tensions in being managed, is depicted throughout as having a resilient sense of self: "I am who I am". Ally's relationships with drag queens at the club where the two meet - Anthony Ramos gives a joyous performance as Ally's best friend, Ramos - evidence a genuine person, both accepted and accepting.

Where Rez sees in Ally a commercial opportunity, Jack sees a talent for having 'something to say' to the world in a unique way that should be nurtured. He is conscious of losing this in himself, increasingly compromised as he is by alcohol and drug abuse.

Jack's back story is perhaps overdone - we don't need details of him attending recovery groups - but Cooper captures his inevitable demise convincingly, observed by brother Bobby (Sam Elliot), who gives a sober and moving performance.

The chemistry between the leads gives energy to the 'live' performances and credibility to the romance. Central to the film is the concept of the authentic as opposed to the manufactured. Whether a star is born, or otherwise created, is a question left for the audience.

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