‘A Star is Born’ burns bright on the silver screen
Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga shine in “A Star is Born”, which has been topping box offices for two weeks now. This iteration of the film is the fourth remake of the 1937 movie of the same name, following a 1954 cinematic musical adaption, 1976 rock-musical movie and 2013 Bollywood rendition.
This version follows the same trajectory as its predecessors: one star is born as another burns out. After entering a drag bar following a performance, country rock star and recovering addict Jackson Maine (Cooper) hears the powerful, angelic voice of Ally, portrayed by Lady Gaga. The two quickly fall for each other and begin a musical and romantic partnership when Ally joins Jackson on tour to perform and write with him, lifting Ally to her eventual stardom.
Cooper’s talent was on full display with this project. He not only starred in the film—singing and playing the guitar and piano live—but also served as director, producer, screenwriter and songwriter.
Cooper spent three years during the development of the film preparing for the role of Jackson, a demanding role both physically and vocally. His arduous work is evident in his performance, as Cooper is almost unrecognizable; he fully embodies the drunk rockstar. By employing messy, confused mannerisms and a deeper, fuller speaking voice, Cooper completely transforms himself to become the character.
The power of Cooper’s performance is shared by his co-star, Lady Gaga, in her first feature film role. Gaga’s honest and vulnerable portrayal of Ally deeply connects with audiences. Although she plays a star on the rise, Gaga gives the character so much humanity and strength that she becomes heartbreakingly relatable.
Gaga was a fascinating casting choice for the role of Ally, since a big plot point of the film occurs when Ally must change her appearance and add more embellishments to her performances, like dancers and flashy outfits, to achieve success. This was an interesting storyline for Gaga to portray, as she herself gained initial fame not just through her music but also for her well-known wild costumes and stage antics.
As the film progresses, it focuses greatly on Jackson’s descent further into addiction and depression, rather than Ally’s rise into success. Though the film is titled, “A Star is Born,” it is the fiery burning out of a star that takes center stage.
Cooper nailed his directorial debut, as the dark, rock and roll aesthetic of the film sets the perfect tone. The film’s script focuses on the characters’ relationships and development, humanizing a tale of fame in a way that makes it easy for audiences to relate to the personal connections of the film, even when the characters are in completely unrelatable situations.
One of the most impactful elements of the film is the music, all of which was performed by Gaga and Cooper. The soundtrack, which topped the Billboard charts, features a wide variety of genres, including rock, country and pop, as well as dialogue tracks from the film. Gaga gives one of her greatest vocal performances to date and Cooper’s deep, rich voice makes audience members wonder why he has waited so long to share his gift with the world. Some highlights include the first song from the film to be released, Gaga and Cooper’s duet, “Shallow,” and the soul-wrenching finale ballad, “I’ll Never Love Again.”
“A Star is Born,” is a powerful film that will greatly impact audiences, burning in their minds long after the credits roll.
“A Star is Born” debuted in theaters October 5. It is currently showing at the Galleria 6 Cinemas, Chase Park Plaza Cinemas and AMC Esquire 7. Showtimes are available online.