When Bradley Cooper’s A Star Is Born was announced, there were mixed reactions from fans and critics alike strictly based on the fact the movie has been made before. His gritty rendition is the fourth installment of the film, with there being versions from 1937, 1954 and 1976. Cooper even came out and admitted that Pearl Jam’s Eddie Vedder . Yet, Cooper persisted, and it has definitely paid off.
The film features Ally (Lady Gaga) an up-and-coming musician and Jackson “Jack” Maine (Bradley Cooper), a seasoned musician who helps Ally hone her craft. One may go into watching the film thinking it’ll be boy meets girl, boy and girl fall in love, things go to shambles but in the end everything turns out okay. Well, it’s actually the complete opposite.
The film touches on topics such as body image, alcoholism, the need for fame, drug addiction and more. It showcases the sex, drugs and rock n’ roll mentality that’s oh so true in the music world.
From the opening of the film, it’s easy to see Cooper is fond of music and more specifically rock music. Starting out with a live performance of “Black Eyes,” the scene plays out more as a rock documentary or concert film than anything. It’s loud, hardcore and everything rock music is supposed to be.
Then the spotlight goes to Ally. Working a job she doesn’t enjoy and performing at a drag bar in her spare time. She’s every bit a star that’s shadowed by her own doubt and the fact that she doesn’t fit the so-called image of a musician.
There, Cooper’s character swoops in and saves the day. He shows Ally her strengths and helps transform her into the musician she always hoped to be. Though the film is called A Star Is Born, it’s clear to audience-goers Ally was a star long before the help of Jack.
From there the film spirals. Between horrifying drug abuse, the onslaught of record label agents and the overwhelming pressure to be there for each other, Ally and Jack’s relationship and personal lives begin to crumble. It’s brutal to watch and eye-opening to the reality of the music industry.
With jabs at dying one’s hair platinum blonde and the notion of losing integrity for mass success, it’s more than probable Gaga took this role personally. Ally’s character struggles to balance her songwriting and creative sincerity with the possibility of world success and chart-topping singles. The plotline picks at the concept of record labels controlling their artists — something not so far from the truth. There’s the idea of selling one’s soul to the devil to succeed in life, and while some musicians avoid this, some fall victim. Gaga has surpassed the pressure of record labels in her career, and it’s interesting to see whether or not this is reflecting in her on-screen persona of Ally.
Technically speaking, Cooper was able to capture the emotions of the film through framing. Within the scene that introduces Ally, Cooper included a wide shot of her spinning and singing in an alleyway. It shows the optimism and potential possibilities in Ally’s life, and then the shot leads into the very classic display of the film title. It’s breathtaking to look at.
Contrasting that, Cooper includes frames that display just how back and forth their relationship is. A wide shot of Ally sitting at the end of the bed looking defeated while Jack is passed out in bed establishes the majority of their relationship. They’re simply a beautiful disaster.
The film is a tour-de-force for Cooper, and honestly it’s almost too good for a directorial debut. Besides the wonderful directing, the music and soundtrack are phenomenal. With consulting from Willie Nelson’s son, Lukas Nelson, Cooper was able to create the raw, gritty rock vibe that Jackson Maine exudes. how Cooper would intensely watch him and mimic his mannerisms and movements. Between holding his guitar to how to perform and act on stage, Jackson Maine is pretty identical to Nelson. In fact, Nelson and his band Promise of the Real went on to play Jack’s backing band for the film.
A Star Is Born is an instant classic and a definite shoo-in for the Academy Awards. Cooper for Best Director is unlikely yet not impossible, Gaga is sure to be nominated for Best Actress and “Shallow” is the front-runner for Best Original Song. It would be a surprising snub if the film walked away with zero Oscars.
The film does more than just touch the hearts of its viewers. It’s a domineering film that shows Lady Gaga has the acting chops and will most likely take on other roles and Cooper is a stand-out director who has what it takes to play with the bigwigs. Otherwise, it shows remakes are possible. They’re tricky, but with the right direction, cast and overall feel it’ll work. Actually, it’ll do more than work — it will triumph.