What the critics are saying about Lady Gaga’s first major film role

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Moya Crockett
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A Star Is Born premiered at the Venice Film Festival over the weekend – and the first reviews are in.

A Star is Born, the forthcoming romantic drama starring Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper, premiered at the Venice Film Festival over the weekend. The film is the third remake of the 1937 melodrama that starred Janet Gaynor and Fredric March as an aspiring Hollywood actress and a movie star on the decline. In Cooper and Gaga’s version – as in the 1954 adaptation with Judy Garland, and the 1976 reboot with Barbara Streisand – the central figures are not actors, but musicians.

Gaga stars as Ally, a waitress at a drag club whose insecurity about her looks has prevented her from pursuing her dreams of becoming a singer-songwriter. Cooper plays Jackson Maine, a famous but fading country musician with a drinking problem. The film’s basic premise is this: Jackson and Ally fall in love, he helps her into the spotlight, and then her star power begins to eclipse his.

Gaga has acted before, notably in the fifth and sixth seasons of TV series American Horror Story, but this is her first major movie role. It’s also Cooper’s directorial debut. As a result, the stakes were high. Would their version of A Star is Born, people speculated, actually be any good? 

Lady Gaga with her A Star Is Born co-star Bradley Cooper

Now, it seems as though that question has been answered. The movie received an eight-minute standing ovation at the Venice Film Festival, and the reviews have begun to roll in. The consensus is overwhelming: Gaga and Cooper’s A Star is Born is brilliant.

Here, we’ve rounded up what the world’s most prominent film critics have said about the film so far. 

“Cooper directs and co-stars in this outrageously watchable and colossally enjoyable new version, supercharged with dilithium crystals of pure melodrama. He appears opposite a sensationally good Lady Gaga, whose ability to be part ordinary person, part extraterrestrial celebrity empress functions at the highest level at all times.”

Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian

“What keeps the film from feeling like a mere rehash is the gut-level romanticism of it all. Cooper and Gaga’s onscreen chemistry is raw and real, even if it shows all the telltale signs of unsustainable infatuation.”

Emily Yoshida, Vulture

“Gaga’s serious-actress transformation for her first major film role will undoubtedly lead the conversation, and she certainly deserves praise for her restrained, human-scale performance as a singer whose real-girl vulnerability lands miles away from the glittery meat-dress delirium of her own stage persona.”

Leah Greenblatt, Entertainment Weekly

Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga in A Star Is Born

“The big question that’s been hovering in the air for months is, Can Lady Gaga act? It’s a ridiculous question. Singers often make fabulous actors. They’re primed for it: All singing is acting. 

“But what’s surprising about Gaga is how charismatic she is without her usual extreme stage makeup, outlandish wigs and inventive costumes. It’s such a pleasure to look at her face, unadorned, with that extraordinary, face-defining nose – it’s like discovering a new country.”

Stephanie Zacharek, Time

A Star Is Born is that thing we always yearn for but so rarely get to see: a transcendent Hollywood movie… [It’s] thrillingly authentic. That’s no minor accomplishment. 

“Hollywood almost never succeeds in nailing the rock world, but A Star Is Born, though a love story through and through, is the most lived-in rock ‘n’ roll movie since Almost Famous.”

Owen Glieberman, Variety

A Star is Born will hit cinemas in the UK on 5 October.

Images: Getty Images / Warner Bros