You know those films that emotionally shift you for a while after you’ve left the cinema?
Bradley Cooper’s directorial debut ‘A Star Is Born’ is one of those films.
‘A Star Is Born’ is not a new concept, but somehow a combination of this film’s cast, cinematography, music and storyline make it feel fresher than anything.
Starring Bradley himself alongside Lady Gaga, the film explores deep themes like alcoholism, drug use, and the dark side of fame.
One of the main takeaways I got from this is the effort that evidently went into making each moment, however huge or however small, feel deeply personal. There’s something here in the way the cameras move, where they’re positioned... That just makes you feel like you’re part of the story. A first time director should be extremely proud of this achievement.
Bradley has spoken about contrasting moments of extreme chaos with silence and stillness and this is also something that is done brilliantly. It’s a painfully accurate exploration of fame in contemporary society; the celebrity pushing through screaming fans and flashing lights to get to a place of unnerving quiet.
To pull all of that off, of course you need a great cast. Bradley is mesmerising as mega music star Jackson Maine with his thick, slurring speaking voice and greasy hair. Lady Gaga on the other hand portrays the innocent but easily swayed Ally beautifully. The two on screen together are genuinely magical. Their chemistry is so real that one would be forgiven for thinking it extends beyond the film.
On the other hand we’ve got Sam Elliott playing Jack’s brother Bobby (great casting choice), Dave Chappelle as Jack’s close friend Noodles, Andrew Dice Clay as Ally’s widower father Lorenzo and Anthony Ramos as Ally’s friend Ramon. This is a solid supporting cast that manages to hold the two leads up and then some.
Perhaps it was because I was aware of the story before watching this, but I felt sorrow and sadness for Jackson the second I saw him on screen. There’s depth and dimension to him that is only easily seen from the perspective of those watching the film. This is on purpose. His audience isn't supposed to see that, which is a comment on the ice berg effect of celebrities; the element of their lives that is much bigger and more complex than what is visible on the surface.
As a result of Jack's alcoholism, Ally almost becomes a parent in the way she dismisses him for drinking and naturally this begins to fracture their romantic relationship, especially as Ally rises to fame and Jack begins his decline. It's heartbreaking to watch what ensues, but it's very real. No matter how astronomically famous the characters in this film became, I found myself really empathising with them.
Thanks to the film’s premise, the soundtrack for ‘A Star Is Born’ is an explosion of sounds ranging from country, to rock, to R&B, to pop. Bradley’s efforts in vocal training paired with Gaga’s undeniable talent makes for music heaven and features pretty well something for everyone.
Not only is the music fun and upbeat at times, but it also scores moments in the film that are huge gut punches. A good soundtrack can of course make or break something like 'A Star Is Born' but it successfully manages to heighten the emotion and even play a role in the storyline. There were tears where they wouldn't have been if it weren't for the music, and that's all that needs to be said.
Whether it's the polished cinematography, the faultless casting or the gorgeous music, 'A Star Is Born' truly soars to stunning heights. It left me feeling emotionally winded for longer than I expected, thanks – for the most part – to the beautiful chemistry (and its consequences) between Lady Gaga's Ally and Bradley Cooper's Jack.