ASIB

When you’re watching the newest cover of A Star is Born, actor Bradley Cooper’s directorial debut, it’s hard not to fall completely for the film’s melodic spell.

Not only is this film a dynamite drama with some of the year’s best filmmaking, acting, writing, you name it, it’s compulsive. Few films this year require an advisory to a soda slurp before you recline in those newfangled seats. You will be pinned to your seat, taking in every note of this one, from opening stanza to encore. It’s like a song on the radio in your car that leaves you making that extra lap around the neighborhood just so the driveway doesn’t take away the good time. The movie is that hypnotic and memorable.

Yes, Cooper nails it at his first at-bat. He’s got the charm of Cameron Crowe with the grittiness of Clint Eastwood, with a dash of Martin Scorsese’s live concert prowess and ability to let a shot linger for the perfect window. He’s got the magic touch, and it’s hard not to fall head over heels for his eye and ability to stage a moment. He’s also a haggard, heartbreaking revelation as the film’s lead, the fading star on the other side of the skyline.

Lady Gaga plays the riser, and she’s also sublime. It’s a big-hearted, Marianas Trench-deep performance, with her acting filling in all the nuance and empathy that the script at times doesn’t quite give her Ally. In other hands, it would have been fair to call this character a bit, er, shallow. With Gaga, it’s one of the year’s explosive turns.

The music, of course, won’t leave you for weeks, nor will the film’s nearly-perfect stretches (that opening 35-40 minutes is like a dream). The film shrugs off being the fourth telling of this story to etch something new, something profound, something that will last. The way Cooper and Gaga play off of each other is mesmerizing, and it’s believable. It’s not a romance; it’s a forged relationship. You don’t just believe these two are falling in love; you believe they sincerely love each other. The first is easy; the second is nearly impossible.

The film’s bound to be this decade’s Titanic, the tragic romance that keeps people flocking to the multiplexes for weeks. Though, there’s not a ton of sap or made-up melancholy to be found here. A Star is Born is authentic and affecting, right down to the closing reverb from the guitar.

For moments there, you’re reminded what the power of this medium can be; the beautiful meshing of what we see and what we hear into a cataclysm of what we feel. It’s a modern classic, destined to play in the back of your head for decades to come.