Review: A Star is Born

A successful musician helps lead a young woman to stardom, while his own career begins a downward spiral, in A Star is Born. Jackson Maine (Bradley Cooper) is a successful country rock musician, who constantly plays sold out show, yet offstage is secretly struggling with alcoholism, much to the frustration of his older brother and manager Bobby (Sam Elliott).

Staggering into a drag bar after a show, Jackson is introduced to Ally (Lady Gaga), a waitress who performs at the bar. Instantly enamored with her singing ability, Jackson invites Ally to his next show, where he brings her on stage to sing. This begins a sudden rise in popularity for Ally, who goes on tour with Jackson and attracts the attention of record producer Rez (Rafi Gavron). However, as Ally’s star begins to rise, Jackson’s demons begin to catch up with him.

Bradley Cooper makes his directorial debut with this fourth version of A Star is Born, which was previously a 1937 film starring Janet Gaynor and Fredric March, a 1954 film starring Judy Garland and James Mason, and a 1974 film starring Barbra Streisand and Kris Kristofferson. It is probably the latter version, which takes place in rock setting, that this new version of A Star is Born takes its inspiration from. 

If there is a way for me to some up the plot of A Star is Born, it is a film that is about the price of fame. It doesn’t doesn’t take long until Ally finds herself with a record deal and begins to find major success as a performer. However, it comes at a major cost to Jackson, who starts a romantic relationship with Ally, as his alcoholism steadily becomes worse and puts a toll on both his and Ally’s career.

While not her first acting role, A Star is Born is really an opportunity for Lady Gaga to show her dramatic chops, as she progresses over the course of the film from a shy waitress with image issues to a successful pop star. Not surprisingly, Lady Gaga’s immensely talented singing ability plays a huge role in the film, with all the songs being performed live. Even Bradley Cooper manages to hold his own musically.

If there is a criticism I have about A Star is Born is that it does give some mixed messages about what one has to do to achieve fame. While Ally is talented on her own, Rez has her undergo an image makeover, with her having to dye her hair and perform with dancers. While this does mirror Lady Gaga’s own stage persona, Ally’s sacrifices for fame does leave a little bit of a bad taste in my mouth, especially where it leads to in the third act.

Overall, I would say that A Star is Born is a very emotional musical romantic drama about the highs and lows of being a successful musician.

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Sean Kelly Author

Sean Patrick Kelly is a self-described über-geek, who has been an avid film lover for all his life. He graduated from York University in 2010 with an honours B.A. in Cinema and Media Studies and he likes to believe he knows what he’s talking about when he writes about film (despite occasionally going on pointless rants).