A Star is Born: What?
Me, after watching A Star is Born once: I just wanted to take another look at you.
The FOURTH version of A Star is Born has been in movie development for years. At one point, Clint Eastwood was going to direct. Beyonce was going to star in it. It was going to come out in 2012. But… It didn’t. After many years of changes in direction and casting, A Star is Born (2018) is brought to us by Bradley Cooper. Not only does he direct the film but he also wrote it. And produced it. And, oh yeah, he starred in it too. The man can do it all. Alongside him is the one and only pop superstar, Lady Gaga, making her big screen debut. It may seem unlikely, but this film is a real winner.
“… this film is a real winner.”
For those who have not seen any of the previous iterations of A Star is Born, the movie is quite simple. In the newest one, Bradley Cooper plays Jackson Maine, an out of his prime, alcoholic country rock star. While at a drag bar after one of his concerts, he meets Ally (Gaga), a working class woman who sings on the side. He is enamored by her. The two begin a romantic relationship, as he takes her under his wing. It’s not long before she is no longer under his wing. In fact, they aren’t even a part of the same nest. Ally’s popularity skyrockets and she becomes bigger than Jackson has been in years. During that first scene of them in the drag bar, Jackson and Ally exchange an ever so slight look. From that moment, they know, and we know, that their lives will never be the same.
This movie works incredibly well. Almost all of that success can be attributed to the chemistry between Cooper and Gaga. Despite their age difference and despite their characters’ personality differences, their love is entirely believable. Even though it clocks in at 135 minutes, the film moves at a quick pace. With lesser stars, it would be difficult to buy the fact that these two have fallen in love in such a short period of time. Although Jackson is in a bad place, he remains endearing to both Ally and his fans. Something about his raspy throat and almost child-like view of the world is enough to throw Ally off so that her guard is let down. As she begins to let him in, so do the viewers. Although both leads give incredible performances, it is Cooper who is a complete revelation. We have never seen him like this before.
“Although both leads give incredible performances, it is Cooper who is a complete revelation. We have never seen him like this before.”
Besides the acting, the star of the show is the music. It is rare for music written specifically for a movie to sound so believable. Especially for supposed musicians. In A Star is Born, not only are the songs good for a movie but they are great, in general. It is easy to understand why Jackson Maine was as popular as he was and it is easy to understand why Ally skyrockets to stardom. The songs, written by Gaga, Cooper, and Lukas Nelson (son of country music star, Willie Nelson), are entirely authentic and sound like songs you would hear on the radio. And for anyone who has been in a Kohl’s recently, you know that they are songs you would hear on the radio. And that is not a complaint. This is genuinely good music and it actively contributes to the feel of the film, as a whole.
A Star is Born re-introduces us to a movie genre that has long been forgotten in the days of the $300 million blockbuster: The romantic drama. In an effort to hedge their bets, studios have stopped marketing films towards adults and have started marketing towards families. It’s easier to make money when every person seeing your movie brings 5 of the closest family members. Unfortunately, this means that the riskier genres that produce movies with middling budgets have gotten pushed to the curb. Hollywood no longer wants to take risks. I recognize the irony in referring to the third remake of a 1937 movie, “a risk.” But that’s what it is. It’s an R-rated romantic drama that hopes to sell itself entirely on its stars and premise. It’s nice to see something so beautiful come from work that is far from a sure thing.
“I recognize the irony in referring to the third remake of a 1937 movie, “a risk.” But that’s what it is.”
And make no mistake. A Star is Born is a beautiful, beautiful movie. The relationship between Ally and Jackson is something to behold. The two are exactly what the other one is looking for: Jackson wants someone to see him for who wants to be and Ally wants someone who embodies her dreams and can push her to achieve them. The relationship has its ups and downs and is full of toxic behavior. You still want them to work though. You want them to be perfect for one another, just as they are on paper. In addition to the relationship aspect, A Star is Born has a lot to say about dreams and the cost of fame. It goes places that most studio films in 2018 would not dare to go and it is better for doing so.
I am a cynic when it comes to remakes of classic movies. My thought is usually, “what is the point of attempting to recreate perfection?” A Star is Born blew me away. I was floored when I saw the trailer for it but I thought there was no way this movie would be as good as it is. It is made with a genuine care for its characters. Gaga and Cooper give nuanced and loving performances that will be remembered for years to come. Cooper, especially, put his heart and soul into the production of the movie. And it is impossible not to recognize that. A Star is Born is the best film of 2018.
Check out more of our movie reviews here! If you’re in the mood for love, here’s our Top 10 Romance Movies that need a sequel – Or if you need something more lighthearted, here’s the Top 10 Pixar Movies!
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