A haunting look at fame, love and addiction: My thoughts on “A Star Is Born”

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Rating: ★★★★

As a fan of both Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper, I was intrigued when a new remake of A Star Is Born was announced. Despite not having seen either of its predecessors, I vaguely knew what the story was about and was interested by the chosen pairing, especially since this is Cooper’s directorial debut. I went into this film with an open heart and mind.

Whilst I rate both of their performances highly, it was Gaga who really stood out to me. Despite the fact she’s a very famous, very well-respected artist in real life, when I watched the film, I saw her character, Ally, and not Lady Gaga. She truly brought Ally to life on-screen, showing us the highs and lows of a former ‘average girl’ turned superstar. She was absolutely fantastic. I could really feel everything Ally was feeling, from elation to pain. I adored her performance and it kept me hooked throughout. Unsurprisingly, her vocals were stunning too, and listening to her performances on the big screen was a real treat. She is so utterly talented and has proven she can go far beyond her singing career, and into new territories.

A Star Is Born features some great cameos too; mainly RuPaul’s Drag Race stars Willam Belli and Shangela. It was really cool to see them in a feature film, and I loved what they brought to the story.  Their relationship with Ally, especially, was really lovely and highlights the inclusivity most of us strive to achieve in modern society. Their characters meant a lot to me.

In terms of Cooper’s portrayal of Jackson, he was also very convincing as an aging star battling addiction. What I loved most about his character was the sheer complexity of it, and how you didn’t know whether to feel sorry for him or berate him. The opinion of Jackson is left entirely up to the viewer, and I really respected that about the film. It has opened a lot of debates about his character’s behaviour, and it’s wonderful when a film causes audiences to do that. He is clearly very troubled but that doesn’t always excuse some of his appalling behaviour, which is presented to us in a very raw and honest way. Because of this, the film is not an easy watch, but I believe it’s an important one all the same. It was also wonderful to hear him sing, as he has a stunning voice that complements Gaga’s throughout. Together, they’ve really made something special. I’ve been listening to the soundtrack a lot since seeing the film.

I also loved the contrast in visual style throughout A Star Is Born. The choice of set design, lighting and colours perfectly reflect what the characters are feeling in that moment in time. We go from glamorous performances on stage, to grittier, intense territories. I was certainly impressed by Cooper’s first film and look forward to seeing where his journey towards directing will take him next. He’s put so much work into this and it really has paid off, giving us an emotional, heartfelt and honest story. If you’re wondering if I cried at any point, the answer is yes. That final song though…

A Star Is Born gives us an honest look into the darker side of fame, the highs and lows, what goes on behind the scenes, all of it. Whilst most of us aren’t ignorant about the fact these issues go on, this film really presents them to us in a brilliant way. The songs themselves are a huge part of this, telling their own stories and adding to the characters’ mindset. The lyrics are fantastic, and bring so much to the film. Listen closely and it’ll be easy to see why. I would definitely recommend it even if you’re not usually a lover of musical film, based on the story alone. It’s a rollercoaster of emotions from start to finish.

 

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