by Jack Gillespie
Lady Gaga had a lot to lose starring in 2018’s A Star Is Born. First of all, it isn’t often that ventures into acting can be considered successes for pop stars (i.e. Madonna, Mariah Carey, Britney Spears). Gaga does have a history in theatre and acting roles in television, but this was still bound to be an uphill battle. Additionally, she is bound to be compared to the previous starring ladies of the previous A Star Is Born is films, and it’s quite the illustrious company: Janet Gaynor, Judy Garland, Barbra Streisand. To be in the same company as these means a lot of pressure to deliver a performance that can be compared to them.
The worries were slightly relieved once some trailers started to be released. Then the pre-release reception came with almost unanimous acclaim. Finally, the film was released and it seemed as if, based on the public’s reaction, that the hype was true. So, was all of this hype worth it?
In some aspects, yes. In other aspects, not so much.
To start things off, the two main leads did not disappoint. Their chemistry together is quite believable—and not just because you believe they are in love. Through all of the ups and downs of their relationship, it all seems genuine. It’s one thing to sell romantic attraction, it’s another to sell the possible dissolving of said relationship and the following rekindling.
Bradley Cooper was definitely a wonderful Jackson Maine, and the movie honestly revolves around his character more than Gaga’s Ally, but Gaga is the one who impresses the most. Scenes where she performs, whether in a drag bar or as a backup singer for Cooper’s character, or in the unforgettable final scene, are where she truly shines. That may seem natural, as she is a singer, but there’s a difference between being a passionate singer and being and acting as a passionate singer in front of a movie camera. She exudes so much raw emotion and star quality in these scenes, it is worth seeing the film just for these moments.
But even when she’s not singing, she still has some bright moments as an actor. Most scenes featuring just her and Cooper are highlights. The intimacy between the two gives her theatrical way of acting some space to come into its own.
As was said earlier, Bradley Cooper’s character could be considered the real focus of the film, and he does a wonderful job. He is able to depict his character’s crippling addiction tragically, capturing not only his need of drugs and alcohol to get through life, but also how that need is slowly ruining his life. Sometimes it’s hard to see the hero part of his anti-hero character, it sometimes seems as if being nice to Ally when they first met and giving her her road to stardom is all Jackson Maine really does for Ally. But playing as a troubled, fading star, Cooper dives deep into his character, to the point that it’s sometimes hard to tell whether it’s Bradley Cooper or Jackson Maine on the screen.
Same ol’ story
Gaga and Cooper definitely deliver in their roles with expertise. However, the story in which their characters are in is the biggest weakness of the film, by far. That’s the problem with remaking a film that has been in the public conscience for more than 70 years. The basic plot of A Star Is Born has been used four times now. And even not taking other versions of A Star Is Born into consideration, the story of Ally is one that has been told dozens of times. An unknown performer who has never performed their own songs gets discovered and gets their chance at stardom, only to become prey to fame and the music industry. This plot is so played out that it can be found in the likes of Drake & Josh Go Hollywood and Alvin and the Chipmunks. It’s a story heard a million times, whether in fiction or nonfiction.
It’s only the ending that gives A Star Is Born what it needed to set itself apart in some way. But even then, it’s still the similar ending to all of the other iterations of A Star Is Born. Originality was not meant to be the selling point of this film, I’m sure of that, but some twist would’ve kept the film from simply being a retread story-wise.
Featured Image: IMDb
A Star is Born
Even if the story doesn’t bring anything new to the table, 'A Star Is Born' is still a solid execution of a tried and true story. Much of the thanks has to go to Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper, whose chemistry was gold. Their solo performances also deserve to win gold, Oscars, that is. This may just be remembered as one of the high points of Lady Gaga’s career. She finally got the chance to prove herself as an actor on the silver screen, have her name in the same group as icons such as Garland and Streisand, and release a song (“I Will Never Love Again”) that is bound to become a classic power ballad along the lines of “I Will Always Love You” and “My Heart Will Go On”. It’s a wonderful start for what could be an illustrious career in film, and solid proof that Lady Gaga will most likely go down as one of most memorable, beloved artists of this decade.
Jack is a Journalism Major and a Sociology Minor who has been writing about media for over four years. He used to be a pop music nerd, then an indie music nerd, and now both. If you’ve heard of something queer, pretentious or artsy, he probably has something to say about it.