“A Star Is Born” Shines

Gaga Stuns in First Major Acting Role


Lara Garay

“A Star is Born” is the fourth remake of the 1937 original film starring Janet Gaynor.

Cecilia Barron, Editor-in-Chief

Falcon Rating: 5/5

I feel like I have to recuse myself from this review.

I first saw the preview for A Star Is Born in August, and I remembered thinking to myself, “This will be my favorite movie.” I was biased—though correct—from the beginning.

A Star Is Born is the fourth and latest retelling of the original 1937 A Star Is Born. Starring Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga, the movie musical follows the lives of two singers, one famous and one on the way to fame, as they meet and fall in love. Jackson Maine (Cooper) is a rock country star and incredible drunk who, on one of his drinking escapades, finds Ally (Gaga) at a drag bar. A waitress with the voice of an angel, Ally often performs at the local spot. After hearing Ally sing, the two fall in love and Ally joins him, performing alongside him on tour.

The plot of the movie centers around Ally’s quick rise to pop stardom. Venue after venue, Maine invites Ally onstage, and eventually, she lands herself a contract. As she begins to remake herself as a bubbly, sexy popstar, their once fairytale love story begins to unwind.

Anyone who has seen a single picture of Gaga knows the drama of her existence. However, Ally is no meat-dress-wearing, “Bad Romance”-singing character. She’s not prone to attention, and while she’s certainly a spitfire, she avoids the intentional drama Gaga has exuded over the past decade. Maintaining her incredible voice while soothing her sharp edges, Gaga plays Ally as if they are one and the same. This toned-down, emotional performance, though, isn’t totally out of Gaga’s repertoire. Her last album, Joanne, was full of ballads and far from the bloody, violent, pop hits she has released in years past. Rather than Ally mimicking Gaga’s rise to stardom, Gaga seems to be turning towards Ally’s subdued strength in her real career.

There are no words to describe the excellence of this movie.

The other leading actor, Cooper, not only acted and learned to sing for the film, but he also directed A Star is Born. In every aspect, he shined. Maine’s drunkenness wasn’t exhausting and tired, as drunks usually become in full-length films. Cooper gave as much hope to Maine’s character as he did despair; in every other scene you would find yourself rooting or booing for Jackson. Each rock concert was directed to make you feel as though you were there, fist-pumping your way to the front of the stage. And Cooper’s singing, never before shown, was impressive. He gave life to each song, and he didn’t falter in the presence of Gaga’s conditioned, classically-trained vocals.

The music is what truly makes A Star Is Born the film that it is. Each performance will make you guilt yourself for never learning the guitar, and Gaga’s singing will make you curse your parents for your untuned vocal chords. Yet, at the same time, Cooper and Gaga’s unrelentless talent is inspiring. For those of us who are not blessed with any sort of artful gift, it is a brief example of what possessing such talent would be like.

As I write the end of this, blasting the movie’s soundtrack for maybe the fourth time today, the natural form of movie reviews tells me to concede a few flaws, but argue their irrelevance and move on. Yet, there are no flaws. There is no scene I could do without, no shot I thought too tacky, no dialogue that seemed any bit unnatural. In fact, writing this review feels like sacrilege—there is no way to communicate its greatness. Just like any poem or quote about love seems cheesy, there are no words to describe the excellence of this movie that wouldn’t fall into clichés.

What I can say is, I have never had a tumultuous affair with a country rock singer. I have never had a tumultuous affair with a musician of any genre. I don’t even listen to country rock. I have no connection to Ally or Jackson any more than I do to Joni Mitchell or Mick Jagger. There is no aspect to this movie—from the location to the drinking to the talent to the drag bar—that relates to me in literally any way. But, at the end of A Star is Born, I cried harder than I ever have at any movie. And I haven’t stopped.

This piece also appears in our October 2018 edition.