30 October 2018
“A Star is Born” premiered after already having climbed both the Billboard and Spotify charts with its early released soundtrack, and with big names like Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper, audiences came to this film with an uncharted level of anticipation.
The ambitious third retelling of the 1937 William A. Wellman film follows the story of fictional country music star Jackson Maine (Bradley Cooper) as he falls in love with and elevates the career of struggling musician Ally (Lady Gaga). The always interesting dichotomy offered in this story comes from the career stages each character is met with. When we meet Jackson, he has reached the peak of his musical career and is on the bitter decent to normalcy. Meanwhile, Ally’s musical dreams are just starting to come true.
This modern take of A Star is Born acts as Bradley Cooper’s debut as a director and bodes well for his future in the industry. Notably, the on-stage performances in the movie were beautifully directed and at times even breath taking. Rather than just showing a single angled view of live performances, audiences are able to see shows from both spectator and performer perspectives.
Paired with classic nods to the original movie, like slow motion shots, Cooper’s film succeeded in giving audiences a new story while maintaining roots in nostalgia. He also did an excellent job at including visual symbols that foreshadow the film’s tragic turns.
One of the most unique aspects of seeing this film in theatres was experiencing the story with others in the audience. Gaga and Cooper did a phenomenal job on screen, creating moments of truth that felt incredibly accessible to diverse groups. Throughout the two-hour length film, some scenes were so raw and genuine feeling that there were times the whole audience seemed to gasp, sob and laugh all at once.
One of the most difficult tasks for a successful movie to fulfill is making viewers care about the characters as much as they care about what is happening in the plot. In this way, the film did a great job building tension in the theater between hoping the characters did the right thing and making it easy to forgive them when they did not.
Alright—let’s talk Gaga. No doubt before A Star is Born, Lady Gaga could be recognized as one of the most musically talented people in the world; this was reinforced when the chart-topping soundtrack featuring her and Cooper came out.
However, much concern was raised about her ability to portray such a serious character as her first movie role. That being said, her charming portrayal of the classic character brought an entirely fresh dimension to the story.
It should go without saying that her musical performances were exceptional and in some cases chilling. But her acting was surprisingly well done and made it easy to accept Ally as a character entirely separate from Gaga’s persona. The chemistry between Cooper and Gaga was natural and made for a very believable on-screen relationship.
A Star is Born deals with serious subject matter like drug abuse, alcoholism and mental health issues; Cooper has to be applauded treating these subjects with such grace while never villainizing the characters experiencing them.
One of the major issues this film runs into is time references. The audience is never given a year at the beginning or end of the film, making it hard to distinguish how much time has actually passed. The characters have gone through so much in the movie, but a time reference would help build urgency or understanding in the scenes. However, the film transitions smoothly, making this issue small.
All in all, at the end of the movie it seemed that two stars truly had been born. Both Gaga and Cooper have set up promising careers in film, Cooper having already acted in blockbusters before this.
Do yourselves a favor and see this movie. Don’t wait on this film to be released on DVD or Netflix; Cooper’s masterpiece truly needs to be experienced in theatre with surround sound and live audience feedback.