Review: “A Star Is Born”

Lauryn Lin, Contributor

I just walked out of the movie theater crying my eyes out so kudos to Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga in their newest film, A Star Is Born. This is Cooper’s directorial debut and Gaga’s first big-screen movie. It’s the fourth remake of the 1937 film of the same name, which starred Janet Gaynor and Frederich March. The second was a 1954 musical with Judy Garland and James Mason; following that was in 1976 with Barbara Streisand and Kris Kristofferson. The critically acclaimed film was released on Friday and is already getting Oscar buzz and praise for their performances, cinematography, and music.

In this version, alcoholic rock star Jackson Maine (Bradley Cooper) meets and falls in love with Ally Campana (Lady Gaga), an undiscovered singer-songwriter. After Jackson witnesses her sing “La Vie en Rose” in a drag bar, they bond over talking about the music industry and, as Jackson puts it, “having something to say and the way you say it so people listen to it.” They end up in an empty parking lot and Ally sings one of her own songs (“Shallow”) for him. The song title foreshadows her eventually commercialized pop star image created by a money-hungry record label. Jackson coaxes her into pursuing her dreams and as his career declines, Ally’s rises to stardom.

The supporting roles add a certain charm and tie the film in together. Jackson’s brother, Bobby (Sam Elliott) is his manager who picks up the pieces after Jackson gets blackout drunk. There’s some sibling rivalry; their past is essential to understanding Jackson’s addiction and self-destruction. Ally’s father, Lorenzo (Andrew Dice Clay) has bigger dreams than her and runs a limo service out of their house. Her best friend Ramon (Anthony Ramos) is her constant support and is never left behind when Ally becomes famous. It’s always frustrating when you watch a movie and see someone get so caught up in superficial things that they forget to be real. That didn’t happen here.

The music itself is a character and furthers the plot yet the songs sound like they could be on the Billboard Top 100 hits. In the opening scene Jackson sings “Black Eyes,” a song that Cooper wrote himself. He sings from his gut and his voice tells a story. A Star Is Born shocks us by giving us Bradley Cooper as a musician and Lady Gaga as an actress. It’s obvious the amount of work they put into creating such a moving piece of art. The song in the parking lot, “Shallow,” is sung acapella, showcasing Gaga’s incredible voice (which is no surprise to anyone), but stripped down. The soundtrack features Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real, an American country rock group that is Canadian singer Neil Young’s regular backing band. The collaboration of all these different artists produced a beautiful film with so much depth to it.

A Star Is Born touches upon different topics like fame and addiction; it seems that the writers wanted to start a conversation that we’re not having. While promoting the film, Gaga has said, “‘I can see you are sad and I want to help you.’ That’s what I hope people take away because truly the star being born in this film is not Ally. The star that is born is courage.” Her humbling sentiments are what made her believable as a young singer who hadn’t made it. What Jackson said at the beginning of the film applies–everyone who worked on this film had something to say with a captivating medium of the film itself.

Gaga and Cooper have electric chemistry; you can tell that they truly respect and admire each other in real life. In the movie Jackson says, “All you gotta do is trust me,” and that comes through. Listening to some of Cooper’s interviews, he said that they tried to make everything as real as it could possibly be. The cast felt like a family in the film and they became one off set too. There are some remarkable superstars who were a part of A Star Is Born and I could not be more in awe of what they have made.