Review: A Star is Born.
Updated: Nov 21, 2018
I'm not sure how to begin praising this film, so let me just start by saying I think its a masterpiece and watching it for me, was one of those rare occasions when my faith in the film industry is restored. A Star Is Born tells the tale of gritty rock star Jackson Maine (Bradley Cooper) who struggles with his inner demons and alcoholism, falling in love with talented nobody Ally (Lady Gaga). The title, which to me seemed slightly cheesy at first, refers to astronomy. For one star to be born, another must implode. Metaphors. Cool.
This story has been told before and it covers many topics such as life, death, fame, passion, success and the music industry, but at the heart of it is human connection and the way our faults and decisions impact one another.
Before I watched this film I was interested to see if Gaga was able to portray the shy, self-doubting character of Ally and convince the audience of this, despite our existing knowledge of her real life, meat wearing, 'look at me' stage persona.
Well, bloody hell. I was sold. At the films premiere, Gaga and Cooper received an 8 minute standing ovation and I can assure you they deserved it. Bradley Cooper's acting was especially stunning, when you consider the fact that he also sang the songs, co wrote the script and that this was his directorial debut! What a guy. Honestly though, you know the acting is spot on when as the audience, you can't hate either of the characters despite their obvious character flaws. Even in scenes when you want to reach through the screen and give 'em a slap, you also want to hug them and help them through it. Surprisingly, there wasn't a single cliche lodged in this script; I believed every 137 minutes of it.
From the title scene in which Gaga dances up a road in the rain singing 'Somewhere Over The Rainbow' ( a hint to Judy Garland whom starred in the original), I knew this film was going to be classy, important and genuine. The authentic vibes from this film are probably assisted by the live performances from Cooper and Gaga lodged throughout (taken place in Glastonbury 2017 and other festivals) and the original songs that subtly narrate the characters' love story. The phenomenal singing from both Gaga and Cooper definitely added another dimension of feels as well. When Ally first sang the chorus to 'Shallow' on stage, I got a serious case of the
G o O s E b U m P s.
Moreover, Ally's final performance of I'll Never Love Again almost, almost, brought a tear to my eye. I have since read an article in which Gaga explains that she had to sing that song minutes after finding out about the death of her best friend, Sonja Durham, which I find incredibly powerful in hindsight.
One of the things I search for in a good film is character arc and a plot that feels developed and wholesome. Without a doubt, A Star Is Born achieves this in every way. Not only did I enjoy this film as an audience member but as a critic and film fanatic I also found myself thinking "wow what an amazing bit of direction/ cinematography/ scriptwriting/ acting" at various points throughout the story. An example of this can be found during Ally's photoshoot as part of her new contract when she remarks "wow, it doesn't even look like me" immediately followed by her agent informing her that she has been nominated for three Grammy's. This moment really took me back because in under 30 seconds, a huge character point is summarised perfectly. Another scene that was particularly poignant for me was the bath scene in which the couple bicker and use each others faults as weapons. Maine questions whether Ally's new music is genuine and then calls her ugly. Ugly being a usually meaningless and swept aside insult, suddenly becomes important when paralleled to the characters meeting earlier in the film. In the bar scene Ally told Maine she can't make it into the music industry, because her nose is too big and she doesn't look good enough to be successful. After hearing her sing her own song, though, Maine tells her he thinks she's beautiful. Character arcs people!
I'm not going to comment much on the ending because spoilers are for suckers, but let me just add that it is not glorified or romanticised. It fills the audience with pure frustration and sadness. When Sam Elliot's character explains to Ally that Jackson Maine's actions are his fault and his only, I think this is a really important message and brings the plot back to its main point that humans are fragile and the way we act directly impacts the ones we love.
Overall, A Star is Born is a magical recreation of a loved Hollywood story that surprised me in the way it made me feel and think so much throughout. Every aspect of the visuals, acting, script and soundtrack is astonishing and if you don't go and watch it, you'll be seriously missing out.
I'd also like to make an honourable mention to Willam, Shangela and Bradley Coopers Goldendoodle pup, Charlie for all making me squeal with excitement under my breath in the cinema. Seriously this film has everything you could possibly want.
As usual, trailer is below.