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A Star is Born is a movie that took me places I didn't think I'd go. And boy, was it ever a ride.
I could end the review right here and simply leave you all in the dark, but anyone who's familiar with my reviews knows I'm not going to do that. So, let's get to it.
When I first heard this film was coming out, I originally thought it was going to tell a much more lighthearted story about a woman trying to make it in the music business, with her trustworthy manager by her side. What I ended up getting, needless to say, was almost completely different.
Instead, A Star is Born documents the hardships of a woman named Ally (Lady Gaga) as a budding music artist—and a budding music artist married to an already-popular rock musician Jackson Maine (Bradley Cooper).
Still, I have to admit that throughout the film's entirety, there was never a moment when I felt as though there was no genuine love between these two characters. Gaga and Cooper have phenomenal chemistry; I liked how, despite all of Jack's issues as an alcoholic and drug addict, everything he did was for Ally's benefit, and all their romantic scenes together reminded me so much of how European lovers act. I felt all their feelings from all the way in the back of the theatre.
All things considered, Gaga impressed me as an actress. If she takes some more acting classes, she could be something special. We can't compare her to Cooper, who breathes the role of Jack with heaves, but she has this "soft fire" in her that has potential if we give her a chance to ignite it.
Her vocal chops, as we all know, are in a super league of their own. Her most intense acting shines through in her performances, and we know she's truly living each moment on stage as Ally just as she always does in real life.
While Cooper doesn't have the most original of singing voices, especially since it verges more on the country sound, it's definitely sweet when it needs to be and it harmonizes well with Gaga's. I thoroughly enjoyed every single performance and song in the soundtrack, from the soulful power ballads to the poppy tunes, as each one served a purpose in illustrating who Ally truly is as an artist versus who she feels she has to become when she needs to for the sake of her career.
Which brings me to my next point: this is the film that made me sympathize with artists a whole lot more than I already did. Inasmuch as Jack wants her to just be herself, she knows she can't always write the music she wants to appeal to a wider audience, and sometimes has to fall into the "pop princess" trap to get where she needs to be faster. But even so, her personality and personal morals never really changes in the grand scheme of things.
And then there's Jack. If it weren't for his substance abuse, he'd pretty much be the perfect human being. Not everyone with a problem is shady or has bad intentions, and I never even got the impression he harbours any sort of envy toward Ally in spite of her suspicions. He is just very protective of her and wants her to stick to her guns, which we know is a difficult thing to do in the music industry when you're just starting out.
And frankly, I don't blame performers who think they need to essentially check out to get through their shows and appearances, as sad as that is. They're facing thousands, if not millions of people who are judging their every move, and just can't catch a break if one little thing goes wrong. We always think it's the fame getting to their heads, but I'm no longer convinced it's the case for a quite a few of these famous people.
I definitely don't want to spoil the ending, but I do want to leave you all with this: that life becomes a lot tougher once loved ones are involved, and recovery can look like a faraway dream when you decide you're negatively affecting their lives with your inner demons. We need to keep this in mind when criticizing celebrities, as fans and professionals. That's the message that makes this film so relevant, and undoubtedly worth the view on top of its beautiful music and emotions.