"A Star is Born" Film Review
By: Nathaniel Simpson
A lot of people think that famous musical artists have the perfect life and get everything they want. Especially in today's society, social media and entertainment news shows how spectacular the life of a rock star is. However, that is not the case in Bradley Cooper's 2018 adaptation of "A Star is Born", detailing the life of a down-on-his-luck country superstar who meets the perfect person for him.
The movie follows Jackson Maine (Cooper), who has spent years in the limelight as a very popular and successful country singer. Little does the world know, though, he also spends a lot of that time blackout drunk and abusing drugs. He is going down a path that is detrimental to both his career, and his life as a person, going so far as to the point of no return.
Then he meets Ally (Lady Gaga), a young lady who has big aspirations of being a famous singer one day. She sings at nights at a drag queen bar, which Jackson manages to stumble into one day after one of his performances. He spots Ally singing "La Vie en Rose", and Jack immediately recognizes talent in this unknown singer. He invites her up on stage a few days later at one of his concerts, where they perform a song together that she wrote. From there, her career takes off, letting the whole world see who Ally is. At the same time, she must also manage her relationship with Jack, who is spiraling back into drug and alcohol abuse and could be a problem for her career.
The film is written by Cooper, Eric Roth (who is known for writing films like "Forrest Gump" and 2021's "Dune"), and Will Fetters. Together, the trio were able to craft this beautiful film of both love and loss. They are able to dive deep into the life of both of these characters, allowing the viewer to see both of their perspectives and why they do certain actions. In a way, you can kind of see why Jackson has spiraled down the path of drug and alcohol abuse, with the pressure of being famous and his older brother, Bobby's (Sam Elliott), opinion of him.
However, at the same time, they take a character like Ally and make her so personable and likable throughout the movie. The viewer wants her to succeed in her music career, and are elated when she is finally able to achieve her dream. However, the screenwriters are able to show the effects that Jack is having on her career, as well as her own mental health. It is really heartbreaking to watch as the two characters are pulled further and further apart due to fame and money as the film progresses.
Cooper not only stars and co-writes this film, but also took on the task of directing the picture as well. On an acting level, I think he does a fantastic job of totally embodying this role, giving us a performance we haven't seen from him before. We are used to him playing the jacked and attractive lead character, and we haven't really seen a role like this from him at the time of release. He is able to perfectly capture the mannerisms and personality traits of someone struggling with drug and alcohol abuse, and at the same time, the viewer can't help but fall in love with his character and want the best for him.
On a directing aspect, I think he does a wonderful job leading the cast throughout this movie. Cooper is present through many scenes in this movie, so I think credit is due to him as being able to wear multiple hats while shooting this movie. He is able to capture these beautiful and heartbreaking scenes, which is impressive knowing that he has his own acting and scenes to shoot as well to worry about. It always blows my mind on how the lead actors for films can direct their own pictures as well, and it makes me respect those actors on a much higher level.
Gaga also gives a fantastic performance in this movie. You are able to see the change and progression her character goes through from start to finish, and shows how big of a role Jack played in her life and career. You want her to succeed in every aspect throughout this movie, but it is hard to not get mad at her when she reams Jack for doing things while drunk and high that could affect her career. Consider the scene where he wets himself while on stage at the Grammy's as Ally was receiving an award. She gets extremely upset with her husband, and the viewer is mad that she would ream her husband and start a fight even though he has a problem. But that's the thing, the movie is able to show both sides of each character's actions, making the viewer feel upset and mad at each thing the other character does, while also feeling sympathy for them at the same time.
This movie has been made multiple times before throughout the history of film in Hollywood, but I think Cooper and Gaga were able to give a great take on this story, adapting it into the modern age. I really commend the filmmakers for taking a different approach on this story, taking a chance to show what they are able to do in the modern era, and they pulled it off seamlessly. I have nothing but respect for Cooper and Gaga, as well as the other filmmakers that worked on this movie.