A Star Is Born is a 2018 American musical romantic drama movie produced and directed by actor extraordinaire Bradley Cooper and is a remake of a 1930’s film bearing the same name. Consisting of a star-studded leading cast of Bradley Cooper as Jackson Maine and Lady Gaga as Ally, it follows the ups and downs of a love story between two talented musicians.
Acting & Character performances.
Wow! I am lost for words that would justifiably describe how pleased I am with the performances. I mean, I had a hunch that I wouldn’t be disappointed in the latter but I didn’t expect the exceptional level of effort and energy from both Gaga and Cooper that I eventually ended up getting.
Brad, more so, is an actor who I have always believed to be the full package if the varying and demanding portrayals he has graced us with in films over the years is anything to go by. This particular film, more than most, cemented that belief even further in the manner he played this famous musical artist cum master guitarist who despite his illustrious and envious status, has a terrible drinking problem which for a better part of the film, proves to be the bane of his existence. I liked how authentic and relatable he made the character of Jackson as well as the relationship dynamic between his and Gaga’s character feel to me as an audience member and I honestly wouldn’t have wanted it any other way.
Arguably the ultimate queen of RnB and Pop Beyoncé Knowles was poised to play the role that Gaga eventually ended up playing in this and it’s safe to say that I am not surprised by the choices. The role demands an outstanding vocal prowess and thus either one of the seasoned artists would have done it justice, right? Well… I don’t know about you but I don’t think so. Believe you me, I am a big Beyoncé fan though now when I try and picture the movie that could have been with her at the helm, I don’t think she would have brought out the right tone and emotional drive that Lady Gaga achieved in Ally.
Remember, there are a lot of things that happen in this flick beyond the various music stages that the character performs in and it is those things that define Ally as an artist. An artist who, with the help of Jackson, has to overcome her insecurities of not feeling like she has the right build that many people expect of someone like her so that she can become the star she is meant to be. If in any case you read this whole thing as me saying Beyoncé is not a good enough actress in comparison to the ‘Just Dance’ hit-maker then you are probably right. Probably.
The Plot, Merits and Demerits.
To say that this movie has been a long time coming would be an understatement. Countless Hollywood productions out there have undergone development hell for example the ‘London Fields’ movie whose situation I highlighted on this very platform not long ago; a number of them end up burning to the ground and not coming to fruition. A Star is Born was close to suffering the same fate but it rose from the ashes to eventually become the blockbuster it currently is and that is majorly credited to the incredible love story they went for as well as the incredible work Bradley Cooper and his team put in it. It is a story that was pretty much brought to life by the stellar performances of Brad and Gaga through the characters they play and it is one that that I was wholesomely invested in beginning, middle and end (especially the end; watch out for that 3rd Act people!)
Various themes were also explored on here. First off, we have the theme of transformation and sacrifice; what lengths one is intent on going in order to realize his or her destiny. In life, we all have to go through uncomfortable stuff in order to get to where we want to be and for Ally, it was fighting through the hate targeted towards her on how she should look as a professional performer. The film also explored the theme of jealousy; how someone can physically and emotionally react when circumstances are not in their favour but are in the favour of those who are close to him or her. Finally, we have the theme of redemption; it explores the need for someone who has had a fair share of mishaps in the past to rise up and become a better version of themselves.
*The direction in this movie is spectacular to say the least. I was genuinely surprised when I found out that this was Bradley Cooper’s directorial debut; being the decorated actor that he is, I thought he might have directed a fair few movies in the 20 or so years he has been active. That said, he must have really been paying attention to the directors he has had the privilege of working with in his career judging by how cohesive the various elements were in sprinkling even more splendor to an already splendid narrative.
*I was awed by the production design as well; there are so many scenes in this movie particularly the concert scenes which were evidently shot live hence providing that much needed realism to an audience member like myself who wants to feel immersed and part of this musical world being shown onscreen. *The scores are phenomenal; when you have a superstar like Lady Gaga going all out vocally in your movie then there isn’t much you can say went wrong in the music department.
*The cinematography was very clever and worked well the various tones; there are a lot of close-ups and mid-shots which felt quite appropriate. The viewer is ideally supposed to be focused on the emotionality of the love story arc between Jackson and Ally which in my opinion, would have and was best portrayed through the said camera techniques. And even when a different camera technique is employed, it is used to great effect i.e. the camera panning in a 180 degree angle around a character so that his or her apparent reaction and aura can be captured. Additionally, there was a sense of flawlessness with the montage technique used to sum up the events that unfolded when Cooper and Gaga’s character were on tour wowing crowds that turned up to see them perform.
This year, Ari Aster of the ‘Hereditary’ fame, John Krasinski of the ‘A Quiet Place’ fame and now Bradley Cooper have done what many might have thought impossible for a director who is starting out in the game; making the most of a relatively low production budget to come up with an incredible story and making audiences connect and invest in them. Being an aspiring director myself, I’d say I’m motivated by their fetes and if you are an aspiring director as well, then you ought to be motivated too most notably by the work put in this incredible motion-picture, A Star Is Born.