Has Bradley Cooper’s directorial debut, ‘A Star Is Born’ lived up to the hype? Elizabeth Symington weighs in on the debate.
This film shocked me in the best way possible. I went in with high expectations because of all the hype surrounding the film, and boy oh boy were my expectations exceeded. I was almost left speechless.
To start, the acting in this film is brilliant, the characters chemistry together; Lady Gaga (Ally) and Bradley Coopers’ (Jackson “Jack” Maine) is palpable. It is as if they were born to play these characters and portray this chaotic and musical relationship. Gaga and Cooper truly took this film to the edge of glory. Without giving too much away, here is a quick rundown of the film (warning may contain spoilers).
Jack is an alcoholic rock artist and Ally wants to be a successful singer. The pair first meets in a gay bar on drag night, where Jack is looking for a drink after one of his concerts and Ally is performing an outstanding version La Vie en Rose. After Ally and Jack make eye contact their love story begins.
Side note: the drag queens in this film are amazing, I mean they let Ally perform on a drag night when she’s not even a drag queen.
Fast forward a couple of hours and the pair are sitting in a supermarket carpark where Ally sings one of her original songs for Jack. I won’t tell you why they are in the carpark, you’ll have to watch the film to get those juicy details.
The first part of the film is its strongest, the storyline is captivating and the music is powerfully emotional. The viewers thrust into Ally and Jack’s whirlwind romance while you watch Ally ascend into fame and see Jack spiral further into his self-destructive alcohol and drug abuse while fighting his inner demons, falling fame and health issue of tinnitus.
On their second night together Ally is invited backstage to one of Jack’s concerts, where Jack invites Ally on stage to perform the song she sang for Jack on their first night. And thus, in my opinion, the greatest moment of the film is born. “Crash through the surface where they can’t hurt us we’re far from the shallow now,” Cooper and Gaga cannot be faulted in this scene.
I was scared that Ally was going to find herself in a bad romance with a career defined by the man who made her famous, however, the film gave her more power than I had expected, she even throws the first punch.
After a montage of the stars touring together, Ally is spotted by record label boss Rez (Rafi Gavron) and is signed on to produce her own album.
This is where I think the film loses a little bit of its magic. The couple are launched onto two different paths while trying to remain grounded and together, their connection remains strong but they lose a large aspect of their relationship.
It is here that Ally loses a little bit of her power, Rez and many others involved in her career push her to become something she is not. While she does fight back, her character does transform when comparing her to what she was in the beginning. Also, they seem to think that Jack has the potential to damage her reputation and career because of his substance abuse. While this may be true, it puts the film back into the trope that a man can define a woman’s life/career.
The music in this film is the best part about it. Cooper’s vocals and ability to play the guitar (which apparently he only learnt to play for the film) almost gives Gaga a run for her money. It is evident to see both characters live for the applause and the stories they can tell through song. “Music is essentially twelve notes between any octave. Twelve notes and the octave repeats. It’s the same story told over and over, forever. All any artist can offer the world is how they see those twelve notes.”
The story came to a sad but outstanding end, with the love story meeting an almost Romeo and Juliet like conclusion. This film had everything it needed, I laughed, I cried and I felt every single emotion the characters did. The film explored love, substance abuse, music and mental illness and while it wasn’t perfect it portrayed a truly moving story and definitely lived up to the hype.
A Star Is Born has become one of my favourite movies of 2018, there are a million reasons to love it.
Feature Image: A Star Is Born, via astarisbornmovie.net