When a movie’s being remade for the fourth time, it’s either so bad people need to keep fixing it, or it’s got a story that a new generation needs to hear. Thankfully A Star is Born is worth the repeat, but it’s not the Disney version of an aspiring popstar’s road to fame.
A directorial debut for Bradley Cooper (Silver Linings Playbook, American Hustle), and starring Lady Gaga in her acting debut, A Star is Born is the story of a country singer whose career is dwindling and the talented muse he falls in love in. As Ally’s (Lady Gaga) star begins to rise, Jack’s (Bradley Cooper) drunkenness and substance abuse gets worse, and tensions arise between their relationship and life on the road.
Watch Laura review A Star Is Born
The adult themes in A Star is Born leave you with a lot wrestle with. Ally is a dreamer with an innocent affection for Jack, offering grounding to his chaotic world. Her naïve ambition is a stark contrast to his world-weary detachment from life and lack of pride in his work. Any young woman would be rightly overwhelmed by Jack’s demeanour but Ally’s strangely equipped to handle him, seeing past his behaviour and offering him a shoulder to cry on. The two have a sweet romance coloured by struggle and a passion for making music worth listening to. As Jack says, any artist has to “have something worthwhile to say.”
Seeing the sensitivity that Lady Gaga brings to Ally’s character – in one scene saying she doesn’t sing her own songs because “a room full of men didn’t like [her] nose” – you can’t help but think she’s bringing her real life into this role. Yet even though Ally and Jack may represent a stereotype of the creative world, it’s where it A Star is Born feels true that it’s most confronting.
It does have a love story at its core, but also a man losing his sense of identity. Ally realises fans don’t “even see [Jack] as a person” anymore. From a drunk at the bar wildly declaring Jack looks nothing like his sister’s husband even though she says he does, to a cashier sneaking a photo of him at the register, Jack’s been dehumanised. His fame has all but removed his ability to find real connection and express his anxieties and questions.
A Star is Born isn’t trying to stop us admiring our favourite celebrities, but rather shed some light on what life can be like when it’s turned into a commodity. Beneath all the grandeur and accolades are complex people with something to say, using music as a way to say it. Jack and Ally are just two people trying to live their dream and work out what’s worth sacrificing to get there.
Their journey makes for an incredible soundtrack (yes that’s really Bradley Cooper singing), but A Star is Born is definitely for mature audiences only. Dealing with strong adult themes around relationships and depression, it’s a movie you’ll think about for days afterwards, contemplating the characters and how their lives unfold.
If you see it, make sure it’s with someone you can mull it over with later.
A Star is Born is in cinemas now.
Release Date: 18/10/2018
Running time: 136 mins
Director: Bradley Cooper
Cast: Lady Gaga, Bradley Cooper, Sam Elliott