Movie Review: “A Star Is Born”
A Star Is Born
Jackson Maine (Bradley Cooper) is nearing the end of his prime as a rockstar. He is somewhat of a legend, but everything is not as great as it seems on the surface. He feels hollow and is struggling with drug and alcohol addiction, with the latter being the more dominant of the two. Ally (Lady Gaga) works in a kitchen by day and is an aspiring singer by night. She has a gig where she regularly performs, but has been unable to break into the music industry due to her appearance.
On one fateful night, Jackson discovers Ally. Despite his issues with addiction and his career being on the decline, Jackson decides to take Ally under his wing. He sees the incredible talent she has and instantly becomes infatuated with her. They fall for each other quickly and they could be the answer to each other’s problems. Jackson could be exactly what Ally needs to break into the music industry, but Ally may be the bright star that pulls him out of his dark addiction.
The Pros & Cons
Bradley Cooper (+10pts)
Lady Gaga (+6pts)
The Relationship & The Music (+10pts)
Jack’s Climax (-4pts)
Pro: Bradley Cooper (+10pts)
Bradley Cooper was absolutely incredible in this movie. Sure his singing was great and this was his directorial debut, but I am just talking about the acting here. Jack is a very damaged guy. He is deep inside drug and alcohol addiction, but Ally is his light.
Bradley Cooper does a fantastic job of oscillating between happiness and depression. From scene to scene, I could tell very easily whether or not the character was drunk. When he was drunk I could see all of the character’s pain on Bradley Cooper’s face. Similarly, when he was sober, I could see his pure joy when he was looking at Ally. This was a very dark and complex character, and Bradley Cooper’s performance blew me away. This guy is definitely going to be a front runner in this year’s Oscars, and he absolutely deserves it.
Con: Predictable (-4pts)
Now it is hard for me not to criticize this movie for being predictable. The problem here stems, in part, from the fact that this is a remake, of a remake, of a remake. In all four movies, the names and the professions are different, but the major plot points are exactly the same. However, the filmmakers did a good job of making the story feel impactful, which caught me by surprise.
Let us assume, however, that you have not seen any of the other three movies, and let us also assume that you do not know how the story goes prior to seeing this movie. Even then, I feel like this story is fairly predictable. The story is about two people who fall in love. They are in the same industry and, while one is rising to stardom, the other is falling from it. It is a pretty slow progression for both characters and the writing is on the wall pretty early on in the story. It is an interesting story but it has been done before, and most audiences will know where it is heading.
Pro: Lady Gaga (+6pts)
Lady Gaga did fine in this movie. It was not an amazing performance, but she did a fine job. While she has acted before, she has not done so in a major motion picture. For her debut movie, this was pretty darn good. Her musical performances were obviously great, and she held her own when acting opposite Bradley Cooper.
This movie only works if the two lead actors can pull off their respective, complex roles while also having good chemistry with one another. The chemistry was certainly there, and Lady Gaga did a pretty good job at capturing her character’s complexity. She is passionate about singing, but is also pretty insecure when it comes to her appearance. She sees all of Jack’s flaws, but loves him regardless. There is a lot going on inside the head of this character and, while I do not believe her performance was Oscar worthy (even though I am sure she will be nominated), she delivered an impressive performance.
Con: Ally (-4pts)
While it had absolutely nothing to do with Lady Gaga’s performance. I found myself not really caring about Ally’s story. I did not really care to see her moving up in the industry, and I did not really care about her struggle on her journey upward. Jack’s story was far more compelling, and I really just wanted to see him or their relationship together. In all honesty, Ally’s story should have been just as compelling as Jack’s. The issue here may have been that the filmmakers gave Jack’s story too much focus. By not seeing as much of Ally’s individual story, we as an audience cannot not be as invested in it as we should be.
I think the filmmakers needed to steer away from making her story so similar to the story from the last three versions of this movie. Decades and decades ago, this story worked. Everyone wanted to see an average person get an extremely lucky break that brought them to the top of their industry. However, in today’s world, we want to see a character who struggles and perseveres on their road to success. Sure, Ally paid her dues, but this was all off screen before the movie begins and, once Jack noticed her, her rise to fame was pretty smooth. I do not think many audiences will connect with that, as I certainly did not.
Pro: The Relationship & The Music (+10pts)
I liked Jack’s story, and I thought Ally’s story needed work, but their relationship was fun to see develop. They very clearly love each other, have somewhat of a symbiotic relationship together, and their career trajectories are going in opposite directions from one another. It is an interesting relationship. They both benefit from being with each other, but at the same time Jack’s career is declining at the same rate that Ally’s is inclining. Despite all of that, the chemistry between Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga was very strong which made the movie so much more interesting than it could have been.
The music did a great job of personifying the two characters and their relationship together. The songs the characters performed before meeting each other matched their characters perfectly, but it was the songs that were written at the different stages in their relationship that fit the movie so well. The songs are good, they are catchy, and they fit the movie so perfectly that, if you were to play the songs in the right order, it would be like listening to the same story that the movie tells. In my opinion, this was a perfect soundtrack for this movie.
Con: Jack’s Climax (-4pts)
I am going to make this quick to avoid spoilers, but I did not think that the filmmakers earned Jack’s climax. The character had gone through a lot, emotionally, but I felt like there was still a long way to go in order to get him where the filmmakers wanted him. I found Jack’s story to be very compelling, but I did not think the filmmakers properly setup the climax of his story. This was already a long movie, so I get that some development needed to be dropped, but everything that happened before did not entirely justify the ending. It was like the filmmakers went from A to T one letter at a time, then just jumped from T to Z.
Grade: B+ (89pts)
A Star Is Born was a really good movie, but it had its problems. The movie failed to give proper focus to Ally’s rise to fame. We see plenty of it, but I never truly felt connected to it. This movie is really Jack’s story, which was very compelling, but the filmmakers seemed to skip a few steps in order to get to his climax faster. He was definitely on that path, but I did not feel like his climax had been justified yet. The movie was also just really predictable. Sure, this was the third remake of this story, but even if it was not, it was pretty easy to see where this story was heading.
There was a lot to like here. Lady Gaga did a great job in her movie debut, but I do not think her performance was Oscar worthy (although I am 90% sure she will get a nomination). Bradley Cooper gave an absolutely fantastic performance that I think definitely deserves Oscar recognition. His character has so much going on and Bradley Cooper did an amazing job of oscillating between the characters darker and lighter moments. There was so much that he was able to say with just his facial expressions and it was awesome to see. The music was fantastic, catchy, and personified the characters and their compelling relationship together. A Star Is Born is not perfect but it has an excellent soundtrack and tells a compelling story that most audiences will love.