FRIDAY, OCTOBER 5, 2018 --Lady Gaga hits the big screen. Okay, this is not the first role for the person previously known as Stefani Germanotta - aka Lady Gaga, but it is her first full acting project. Her previous work included "Machete Kills", "Sin City: A Dame to Kill For" and "Muppets Most Wanted." But given her personality, it is not surprising that she delivers a well rounded, believable performance. Probably the best of all the versions of "A Star is Born".


There have been three prviosu credible versions of William Wellman and Robert Carson's original 1937 story. There was the first with Frederic March and Janet Gaynor which earned 7 Oscar nominations. The second in 1954 with Judy Garland and James Mason earned six Oscar Nominations. The third with Barbra Streisand and Kris Kristofferson earned four nominations and one win for Barbra for the music. Don't be surprised is if Gaga gets some serious looks this awards season.

The story is the same, though the names have been changed. Bradley Cooper plays Jackson Maine and burned out rocker who is seriously trending down. He encounters Ally (Gaga) at a bar singing La vie en Rose in a way that Edith Piaf would envy. Their eyes catch and the magic begins.


She wants to be a star but is extremely timid until he brings her on stage with him to perform one of her own songs. She is an immediate hit and the two hook up for what will be a skyrocketing love affair that spirals into his own pool of dependency and regrets.


In the background is his older brother Bobby (played brilliantly by veteran actor Sam Elliott) whose role as band manager has been kicked down to basically a glorified roadie. Her character is completed by her father (played by a very toned down Andrew Dice Clay).


Cooper, who is making his directorial debut, guts out a couple of tunes with and without Gaga. But it is while they are on the screen together that the audience is drawn into a beautifully nuanced love story. Gaga demonstrates that she has serious acting chops as she delivers easily the best version of her role.


Gaga fans are going to flock to see their favorite entertainer in a totally different light, while Cooper fans win't be disappointed either; this is a serious step up from "War Dogs" and "Joy".


"A Star is Born" works because of the magnificent screen chemistry between Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper. Like all the other versions, they get the fact that the screen romance must be believable. Casting Sam Elliott and Andrew Dice Clay complete the great casting!   -- GRADE A- --   GEOFF BURTON