“A Star is Born” (dir. Bradley Cooper), starring Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper, tells the story of Ally (Gaga), an unsuccessful yet talented singer and songwriter who crosses paths with Jackson Maine (Cooper), a drunken, drug addicted and fading rockstar. The movie follows Ally and Jack’s journey, as Jack helps Ally embrace her talent and the two eventually fall in love. As Ally rises further into stardom, Jack continues to struggle with substance abuse, and their love suffers. This 2018 version of “A Star is Born” is the third remake, following versions from 1954 and 1976. Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga have incredible chemistry throughout this film and Cooper does an excellent job directing it, bringing a story of passion, love and struggle to life.
Lady Gaga, mostly known for her powerful presence as a musical artist, takes to the screen and brings a dynamic to the character of Ally that can connect her to all of us. Ally’s development throughout the movie stems from an idea she has that, despite her incredible singing talent, her appearance does not fit the popstar image. When Jack introduces her to the spotlight, she falls right into place and realizes that the stage is where she is meant to be. Through incorporations of Lady Gaga’s own experiences as an artist, and her beautiful portrayal of Ally’s character, the message of perseverance is evident, which I think is something that we can all connect to. I will say that Ally’s character portrayal seems to be heavily influenced by the fact that she is played by Lady Gaga, as opposed to Lady Gaga portraying a different personality, but it works for the context of the film and the messages that come across from viewing the film.
Bradley Cooper, both acting in and directing this film, is a marvel in both roles on set. He clearly had a vision for how this movie was to be portrayed to the audience. What was most intriguing to me about his style of directing was the shots of the musical performances. Instead of stagnant shots of a stage, viewers are launched into the performance with Jack and Ally. With the constant motion of the camera, from close ups on their faces as they belt out lyrics, to shots of Jack’s hands intricately playing the guitar, it makes the audience feel like they are part of the performance. Every single scene like this gave me chills.
Cooper also does a great job staying true to the run-down and substance addicted vocalist that Jack is when portraying the character. Many elements of Jack’s life play a role in his disease, including a major hearing problem, the death of his mother in childbirth and his father passing during Jack’s teenage years. There were some moments where Jack’s drunken state did not seem very different from his sober state, which counteracted comments made to his character by others about not drinking recently, but this was only a minor flaw compared to the rest of his outstanding portrayal. Despite the portrayal of Jack’s specific experience with substance abuse, the movie really shines a light on the seriousness of addiction as a disease. It impacts basically every element of Jack’s life including his music career and his relationship with Ally, which really illustrates how harmful alcoholism can be for people.
Cooper and Lady Gaga’s individual character portrayals are pretty spot on, but it is the chemistry that develops when they are together that really makes this movie incredible. I honestly cannot imagine another pair in these roles. Their voices mesh so well together on stage, and their complicated and spontaneous romance hits all the highs and lows of a relationship. The themes of music and romance are a perfect combination that is familiar yet beautiful, and develops intensely all the way to the end of the film. Ally is fully aware of the struggles that Jack deals with, especially his substance abuse, and there are many moments in their relationship where these struggles take center stage. Through it all, Ally remains by Jack’s side, which only adds to the strong development of their love for each other. The inspiring messages, the bit of humor, the music, the romance, the casting and the amazing directing style by Cooper all come together to create one truly amazing story.