“A Star Is Born” suprises audiences

Cassidy Eisen, Reporter

The best rendition yet of “A Star is Born,” is a total knockout that will hit you with every emotion possible. It told a story of love, addiction, and tragedy surrounding a withering, alcoholic rock star who took an unknown singer-songwriter under his wing, helping her rise to fame all while struggling with temptations that are slowly destroying himself, his career, and his relationship.

Because this is Bradley Cooper’s directorial debut, Lady Gaga’s first major feature role, the movie’s fourth remake since 1937, expectations were high. The 2018 version of “A Star Is Born” proved to meet these expectations, earning an estimated $42.6 million its opening weekend, according to CNN Business, and a well-deserved 90 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

We are greeted with a scene of Jackson Maine (Cooper) in the back seat of his limousine after a performance, downing a bottle of whiskey. In search for his next fix, he pulled over and stumbled into what he came to realize was a drag bar. There, he found Ally Campana (Gaga) performing the song “La Vie En Rose,” and was instantly mesmerized.

The two spend the entire night together. Ally sang Jackson a snippet of one of her unfinished original songs, and he was undeniably impressed. Wanting more, Jackson invited her to his next show where he brought Ally onstage to sing a duet of her original song that he finished himself. From this moment, you could have guessed: A star is born.

Ally joined Jackson on the road for the remainder of his tour, performing their song together on every stop, and falling in love along the way. Ally signed to a record label, but as her career began to soar, Jackson’s career and mental health decline. The audience sees both characters lose themselves in their own way.

Google Images
“A Star Is Born” movie poster featuring Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper.

As she became more and more popular, Ally’s image and music started to change from natural, simplistic beauty in her appearance and raw ballads, to a pop star with colored hair who sings pop music. Jackson wanted the best for Ally because he saw such great potential, but was worried she had lost what she once represented, originality. His alcoholism and drug abuse took hold of his life. The scenes where he struggled not to pass out onstage are almost unbearable. By the end of the film, we are left with a weathered man who doesn’t know how to cope with his hardships.

The relationship between Ally and Jackson is true, dependent, and toxic all at the same time. Though their love for each other was real and passionate, they subconsciously used each other for personal gain. Ally was a singer who, due to rejection and a lack of confidence, had given up on her dream to pursue music professionally. It was Jackson who helped her gain that confidence back by pushing her to perform live with him to prove to her that her voice resonated with people, along with his platform and connections that helped her rise to fame. For Jackson, Ally served as his anchor that helped pull him out of the depths of his addictions. Because he could not help himself, helping Ally reach her goals and the love they shared were the only things that were delaying Jackson from his final fate.

The on-screen chemistry between Cooper and Gaga is undeniable, and together they depicted a relationship with real struggles and hardships. Cooper was able to showcase the pure, raw emotions of someone struggling with addiction, as well as how it can affect their mental health and quality of life.

Despite this being Gaga’s first leading role in a featured motion picture, her acting was pure and natural. Because she is a musician who rose to fame on her own charisma, telling Ally’s story seemed like she was telling her own. Gaga’s incredible vocals were well-known before the film, but while watching her in the musical scenes, one can see and feel the emotion in her voice which is a side we don’t see from musicians very often.

Though this is Cooper’s first time in the director’s chair, it is also the first time we get to hear him sing like this. Jackson’s brother (Sam Elliot) confronted him about stealing his voice while he was becoming established as an artist. Elliot is widely known for his signature raspy, gravelly sound. Cooper was so dedicated to the role that he altered his voice by lowering it an octave to mimic Elliot’s. Both actors sang everything live during the movie; nothing was pre-recorded. Every word was a live vocal captured on set, according to Variety. This was Cooper’s call because he wanted everything to sound as authentic as possible.    

Together, Cooper and Gaga created a theatrical and musical masterpiece that will leave you feeling fulfilled, yet heartbroken, which is why “A Star Is Born” deserves such praise and recognition.