"Tragic Story of Love and Music"
What You Need To Know:
A STAR IS BORN is artfully made. Both Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga deserve high praise for their performances. Cooper deserves a nod for directing as well. Everything comes together for a well-made drama that pulls at the audience’s emotions from start to finish. Unfortunately, the story takes a depressing turn as the couple’s life together falls apart. By the tragic ending, the characters are left without hope, leaving viewers feeling the same. The lack of a redemptive ending, the obscene, lewd content and constant substance abuse make this STAR IS BORN the least acceptable version of a well-worn tale.
A STAR IS BORN (2018) follows the talented and tragic relationship of famous singer/songwriter Jackson Maine (Cooper) and aspiring singer Ally (Lady Gaga). Artfully directed by Cooper with great music and stunning performances by the pair, the movie is moving, technically excellent, and deserving of its early Oscar buzz from the festival circuit. However, the story is a tragic tale of addiction, fame and hopelessness, leaving viewers with a depressing movie full of excessive foul language, substance abuse, and sexual content.
Jackson Maine is a big star who lights up stadium crowds with impressive music but finds himself at the bottom of a bottle every night. Ally is an aspiring singer who juggles her restaurant job with random gigs at drag bars. One night, an already drunk Jackson stumbles into her bar for one more drink and witnesses her performance. He invites her to his next concert, where he surprises her by bringing her on stage to sing, and the two begin their tour together. They fall deeply in love as Jackson helps her find fame, and she inspires him to get control over his alcoholism and drug problem. It seems like they’re both the answer to each other’s problems and the key to their happiness. However, as Ally becomes more and more successful, Jackson finds it harder and harder to come to terms with his age and addictions.
There is so much to love about A STAR IS BORN (2018). Both Cooper, and especially Lady Gaga, deserve all the recognition for their performances in the movie. As a director, Cooper seemed to pick up a few things from former collaborator David O’Russell, giving all the characters their unique voice and authentic feel. Every scene draws the audience in with the nuances of the relationships between the characters. Lady Gaga especially shines in her first dramatic leading role, playing shy Ally offstage while bringing stunning performances during the musical scenes. Everything comes together – the stars, the directing and the music – for a well-made drama that pulls at the viewer’s emotions from start to finish.
It is unfortunate, then, that such a talented team ultimately tells such a depressing, hopeless story. The movie hinges on the idea that Jackson and Ally can save each other, while they desperately try to serve their own desires and careers. Neither of them can ultimately fulfill the pressure they put on each other, and their relationship crumbles as a result. By the midpoint of the story, when things start to go downhill, this romantic worldview feels shallow. By the movie’s tragic end, the characters are left with no hope, leaving the audience feeling the same.
From the very beginning, as Jackson takes a bunch of pills before he goes onstage, the movie makes it clear this isn’t a beautiful love story. The movie’s explicit content, including excessive foul language, constant substance abuse and a scene with excessive nudity, is a constant reminder of that reality. This questionable content, mixed with a hopeless worldview, weighs down the movie’s talented execution. At best the movie serves as a cautionary tale against a life dedicated to acquiring fame, but it doesn’t leave viewers with a positive alternative to believe or support. This story has been made three times before (once with Judy Garland and James Mason), but this is the least acceptable version.