Amir’s review published on Letterboxd:
this is a pretty impressive movie simply by virtue of it being Bradley's *first* foray into directing. the scope here is large, and the set pieces are wonderful, beautiful, gorgeous, well crafted. the music is great too, and very lived in, integrated into the character so well that you forget (well maybe not with Gaga i guess) that these aren't actors doing an acting thing. to that end, Cooper has truly made a great concert movie, the spirit of watching musicians craft, perform, live their truth. it's all there and Gaga and Cooper know how to work it and elevate it from mere performance to grand heights.
and yet... something didn't entirely connect with me. i had this feeling of being disengaged, being kept at arms length. moments of big emotional crescendos that should have hit, didn't. a lot of scenes kind of just blurred together, as sense of time seemed kinda... not present? one character in particular (that manager dude) just feels like a cliche "ooo industry guys are trash", and a lot of Ally and Jake's characterization feels... baffling and at times kinda silly? and i felt as if i was being rushed along to a conclusion that felt a little dated. and Cooper is nowhere near the capable director to tackle music industry politiking, *granted* that isn't what this movie is about.
but what hurts this movie the most for me has to be the fact that there isn't anything new being said that hasn't been said in various other stories of this type, let alone the other four iterations that came before this. in Cooper's chance to tell this story for a new generation, he kind of just boils this down to the barest of bare essentials and sometimes it works, allowing us to focus more on the real heart of the film; Jake and Ally's relationship, which is really well done here. but that doesn't erase the fact that we never get a better understanding of these characters as people who make music and make decisions based on the fact they are musicians, as opposed to these characters simply just existing to hit those same story beats that just happens to be within this musical landscape. it's a bold move and one that in the long run i will appreciate because we just don't see that kind of thing anymore (ASIB in general is the kind of movie you don't see anymore), but it has been done better is my point.
still, there is raw power throughout this film. and has its heart in the right place. but i still can't help but feel we didn't need five versions of this movie to exist. or at the very least, if we did need five versions of this story, could it have killed them to put PoC in it since this is the new one for a new generation? (granted race doesn't matter since ultimately what doesn't work is at a script level, not an acting/music level, and I don't want Cooper even remotely touching that) but at the end of the day, A STAR IS BORN is a cool little throwback of a movie that i wish did more, but what they do manage to accomplish is still pretty impressive.
shout out the real MVP - Matthew Libatique, this movie looks gorgeous fam. get that Oscar bruh.