***Contains minor spoilers***
A remake of the 1976 Barbra Streisand remake of the 1954 Judy Garland original, A Star is Born tells the story of a want-to-be singer rising to fame with the help of a famous country singer. Ally (Lady Gaga), a grafter who writes songs, is performing at a drag bar when Jackson (Bradley Cooper) stumbles into the bar in search of alcohol and to his surprise comes across Ally’s performance of La Vi en Rose.
Jackson takes Ally out for a drink, in a drug store’s car park, and she performs one of her songs for him. He instantly falls in love with her voice and takes it upon himself to aid her in making her a star. Thus…a star is born.
I had really high hopes for this film due to the hype that has been thrown around it, I also love country music so I thought it would be right up my street. Unfortunately it just didn’t tick all the boxes for me. I found the characters quite difficult to connect with and the storyline was too predictable.
I thought it was very well cast, Lady Gaga was brilliant in the role of Ally, however, I really didn’t like her character. At the start of the film she was head strong, tough and stood up to people who treated her badly. We see her battle with her awful manager, we see her deal with the every day stresses of living at home with her father and all his work colleagues and, for some unknown reason, we see her breakup with a boyfriend on the phone right at the start. On top of all of that we see her punch a policeman in the face so there’s no doubting she is a strong, independent female. So why when she suddenly has a burst of fame do we see her giving in to all the demands of her awful producer and getting pushed around by her drunk husband. I don’t buy that she would have changed her personality that much just because she was in love with him. That isn’t the Ally we are introduced to right at the beginning of the story.
So, although Lady Gaga was absolutely fantastic in the role (and we can’t deny she has a flawless voice) I just didn’t buy into her character. I thought she was weak willed and at times pathetic.
Bradley Cooper, as well as bringing this film to the screen in his director debut, leads this film incredibly. He was by far my favourite thing about it, although playing a stereotypically awful character, he absolutely smashed it. He performed with grace and prowess whilst making me physically cover my eyes at times because he was just so uncomfortable to watch…in a good way. Jack is a vulgar, ugly, nasty human being who’s one true love in life is his addiction to alcohol, drugs and music. We see so many sides of him throughout the film, he disregards his brother from his life, he abuses his wife and more so abuses himself. His health is declining as is his career and he blames everyone around him for this, including Ally.
Similar as with Ally, I didn’t like the character but in a different way, I believe you are supposed to empathise with Ally but I didn’t whereas Jack is just awful, he knows it, the writers know it and the audience agrees with it. He’s perfectly written.
Bradley Cooper did a stunning job at directing this film, I particularly loved the set up of the festival/concert scenes, it felt really personal and invasive with the characters on stage with the use of the backstage shots and close ups. And the live recordings of the songs worked perfectly.
My favourite part, by a long way, was the scene where he persuades Ally to join him onstage and they sing Shallows together. I love Lady Gaga’s delivery of the song, her charming querks make her really easy to watch and you truly believed that she was utterly terrified despite being seemingly confident. The chemistry between Ally and Jack is clear from the get go and this scene really was the peak for me. It all went downhill from there.
Full of clichés and a constant attempt to make the audience cry, this film just didn’t do it for me. With a huge Oscar buzz around it I wouldn’t be at all surprised if it gets nominated for Best Lead Actor and Actress as well as Direction and Original Song. I’m still not entirely sure where I stand on re-makes getting Academy Awards so I’d be disappointed if it wins Best Picture. I don’t think it deserves it.
Well done to Bradley Cooper for a good first attempt.
I’d recommend it to most, A Star is Born – now showing at pretty much every cinema in the country.