Ever since the first trailer for Bradley Cooper’s directorial feature debut, A Star Is Born, dropped earlier this summer, audiences have been riding a wave of anticipation. Widely considered to have one of the best trailers of the summer and featuring original music from Cooper’s co-star Lady Gaga, the movie was declared a fall must-see and an early Oscars contender. That’s a lot of hype to be showered upon Cooper’s first-ever turn behind the camera, but when Gaga starts belting, it’s hard not to get swept up in that powerful crescendo of high expectations.
Enthusiasm hit a fever pitch earlier this week when Talkhouse.net accidentally published a review before the embargo lifted (it has since been taken down), comparing the picture to some of the most spectacular films of the 20th century. Was this hyperbole—knee-jerk adulation that exaggerated the film’s achievements? Or were audiences about to witness the birth of Hollywood’s next great auteur while enjoying a revelatory performance from Mother Monster?
Well, according to early reactions to the film, which just screened at the Venice Film Festival following yesterday’s premiere of Ryan Gosling’s First Man, the answer might be a bit of both.
Here’s what the critics are saying.
This is just a small sampling, of course—we’ll have to wait until the full reviews start pouring in and the movie hits theaters. But based on these early reactions, it sounds as if A Star Is Born may not quite secure its place in the pantheon of great American cinema, though it clearly has its strengths. People forget that Gaga was a trained actress before she became a pop sensation—she’ll likely find herself in the thick of a crowded Best Actress race—and it seems like the musical elements of the story will help buoy whatever is “cheesy” and “cliche” in the film.
A Star Is Born hits theaters October 5.