Movies like A Star Is Born are the very reason we fell in love with Hollywood in the first place. It has the full package with stunning performances, a well-known romantic story and all over beautiful stars.
A Star Is Born is the third remake of the 1937 film of the same name. The original version starred Janet Gaynor and Fredric March. The first remake from 1954 had Judy Garland and James Mason in the lead. Then came the 1976 version with Barbra Streisand and Kris Kristofferson as stars. Finally, the latest edition has Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper to show off. The 2018 version directed by Bradley Cooper has the most in common with the 1976 remake. Since it also takes place in the music industry.
The latest edition follows the classic A Star Is Born storyline with seasoned musician Jackson Maine (Bradley Cooper) discovering and falling in love with struggling artist Ally (Lady Gaga). As Ally’s career takes off into superstardom, Jackson’s star declines and their personal relationship is breaking down because of his self-destructive tendencies. What makes this version different is Cooper’s more significant directorial emphasis on the arch of the falling star, not the emerging one. The earlier versions focused more on how an incredibly talented woman rises all the way to heaven with the help of a man who already had his fair share of fame and destined to go downhill. Bradley Cooper – as an actor and as the director too – manages to highlight the struggle and downfall of a man without obscuring the triumph of the rising star. It could easily be called ‘A Star Is Dead’ instead.
Bradley Cooper is brilliant in Jackson Maine’s raw, gin-fueled rock star part walking on the edge of complete burnout. His very nuanced performance showcases the vulnerable side to being famous as Jackson struggles with tinnitus and fights his inner demons (alcohol and drug addiction). Tinnitus, as heard on the score, is the symbol of the inevitable future loss of his musical kingdom. No matter how hard he tries, his talent is evaporating into thin air. But finding Ally he gets the last chance for happiness and a final creative spark before his impending downfall.
Lady Gaga was perfect for the role of Ally. She is capable of showing us the everyday woman dreaming big while working endless shifts in catering, the dame singing in the queer bar, the girl next door still living with her father, the singer-songwriter going for it and the androgynous pop superstar. Lady Gaga is all of that and more. She was born to be a star. Experiencing something in real life doesn’t necessarily result in a convincing performance on the silver screen though. But Lady Gaga pulls it off. She knows how to act, how to write songs and how to sing her heart out. But most importantly she knows how to stay believable all the way.
They are great individually, but the chemistry between Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga is what makes this movie tick. A Star Is Born is fully packed with those tiny, intimate moments that only profoundly connected people share. And that connection is at times breathtaking. It is not merely about two talented but flawed people falling in love with each other. It shows how they fall in love with the other’s individual talent and with the beauty of creating something extraordinary together.
I loved that the way up for Ally was just as hard as the spiral down for Jackson with many obstacles and creative challenges. It showed that despite going to the opposite direction and furthering from each other, they shared something in common: the burden and responsibility that comes with having an inborn talent. As Jackson puts it into words:
“Look, talent comes everywhere, but having something to say and a way to say it so that people listen to it, that’s a whole other bag. And unless you get out and you try to do it, you’ll never know. That’s just the truth. And there’s one reason we’re supposed to be here is to say something so people want to hear. So you got to grab it, and you don’t apologize, and you don’t worry about why they’re listening, or how long they’re going to be listening for, you just tell them what you want to say.”
I found it refreshing that 2018’s A Star Is Born went one step further than all its predecessors. It not only aims to show us how the new generation replaces the old one embedded in a heart-wrenching love story, but it attempts to give us answers too. Why does someone get to be a star? What makes Ally special? What’s the fuel of creativity? Can love conquer it all? Interested in the answers? Go and watch A Star Is Born in your nearest cinema.
That’s it for another film review. My first attempt can be read here. I also love hearing from you, so please leave me lots of lovely comments below.
Source of Featured Image: A Star Is Born (2018)