A Star is Born might tell the simplest (and most overused) story you’ll see in a film this year. Famous boy meets everyday girl, they connect and fall in love and he helps her become a star. Stardom, celebrity, singing… From Singing in the rain to Lalaland to even High School Musical, we have seen these themes over and over again (A Star is Born is in fact the third version of the film of the same name). Yet with Bradley Cooper’s adaptation of this story, I felt like I was discovering this plot for the very first time.
Cooper and Gaga not only star in the film but also created it. He wrote, directed and produced it, she wrote the music. Together they make this crowd-pleasing story feel fresh and new. Ally the unknown singer (Gaga) and Jackson Maine the alcoholic superstar (Cooper) could have been very superficial characters, but the natural acting and the chemistry between the two leads is mesmerizing. This film feels very authentic; no doubt Cooper brought many personal details to this story, and Gaga’s character actually refers directly to her real-life experience early on, when she explains to Jackson that she will never make it in the music industry because she isn’t pretty enough. Before becoming the famous Lady Gaga we know, she had heard the same comment many times.
The characters (and the music) carry the film, giving A Star is Born a unique personality. However, I do believe the plot could have been slightly better. The film starts very strongly, plunging us into the world of our characters, making us excited suggestions about where their relationship could go. But the second act, once they have got together, fails to match it. The obstacles of Ally’s manager and Jackson’s addiction to alcohol and drugs do not seem enough of a threat to their relationship, because we can feel the strength of the connection between them. The final act then reveals that the biggest obstacle to their relationship was there from the outset, and it leads to a beautifully simple, yet powerful ending. Despite the flaws, the characters carry the film and manage to keep us entertained for 2 and a half hours. It reminded me of Hollywood romances of the 90s such as The Bodyguard or Ghost, with little action but plenty of emotions, and developments in the central relationship to keep the viewers on their toes. The music is of course all-important. Gaga insisted that all the songs must be played live, and I think this has truly added quality to the story. Music is what brings the characters to fall in love, and by including songs in their entirety, Cooper puts us on the same wavelength as the characters, making us understand what they are feeling.
Visually, this film is a pleasure for the eyes. Without stealing the show, the cinematography truly enhances the story, for instance by playing with the flares of lights to symbolise stardom and success. The concert scenes are filmed in a way that gives the impression you are in the audience or maybe even on stage with Jackson, feeling all his emotions and energy. The framing, while simple, always reveals how the characters are feeling in relation to the space and situation they find themselves in. The visuals are simply a further revelation that this film’s strength is in its complex, touching and relatable characters.
A Star is Born is a beautiful piece of cinema that, while it may not be truly groundbreaking, tells an involving story that reminds us of the importance of personal connections.
You can still watch A star is Born in York’s Everyman Cinema.
Every Tuesday it’s student night in Everyman! For £11.50 you can enjoy one admit to the film, a small popcorn and an Estrella Lager
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