I really don’t know where to start with this review, so I’m just going to say it: “A star is born” is a good movie, one that will please most people, but that has some flaws that we need to talk about.
First of all, let’s start with the good:
- The music is really good. I was very surprised to realize that Bradley Cooper is actually a great singer: I love his rough voice and he definitely has great stage presence (to be expected, I suppose, since he is a performer). As for Lady Gaga, I think most people know she is a fantastic musician, with a real star quality. She belongs on stage, and you can definitely see that in this movie. The songs are great and “Shallow” definitely stands out.
- The storyline is sweet, empowering, easy to watch and the ending, dramatic enough to make you remember it. This movie is…commercial, in the sense, that it will definitely appeal to masses because this type of story was successful in the past; it’s a coming of age type of story that is instantly likeable. To answer a possible question, I haven’t seem the previous two movies, but I have seen Country Strong and this film reminded me a lot of it (Gwyneth Paltrow plays BC’s role and Garrett Hedlund is the rising star, so because I love him and have followed him for a long time, I really liked that movie).
- Bradley Cooper is absolutely amazing in this role. He completely stole the movie for me and I would give him an Oscar for Best Actor right now. (Sidenote: the friend who watched the movie with me disagreed and said most of his parts are like this and she didn’t see anything new in his portrayal). I personally believed every second of his performance and I was rooting for him every step of the way. But, here’s the thing: I felt the movie told his story and Ally was just a part of it. This is not a movie about Ally’s rise to stardom, it’s about Jackson’s downfall. So that being said, I really don’t know why it’s called A star is born.
And we reach the Lady Gaga topic. Like I said, I’ve always liked her music and I think she is a fantastic musician, with a real star quality to her that is hard to fake. She has it. And yes, you can see it in this movie, especially in the singing parts. But only there. In the rest of the movie I felt like she played her part well, but she played it safe. You know those movies when the teacher says to his struggling pupil that he isn’t singing/acting/drawing well enough because he/she is not letting go? Because they think too much? That’s how I felt about Lady Gaga’s acting: it was good, but it was safe. The star in her showed up only for the singing parts, which is normal, because that’s where she feels safe and more confident in herself. And I guess for this movie it’s enough. Is it for an Oscar? No, I really don’t think so. Will she win it? Absolutely.
Directing-wise, it was nice, and some of his shots were really good, but it felt a bit messy, a bit all over the place. But enjoyable, overall.
One other thing I wanted to talk about was the ending. Without trying to spoil it (sorry if I do), I thought it didn’t work, or better said, it didn’t make sense. Ok, I have to spoil it, so skip the next part [SPOILER] I thought the ending was not foreshadowed in any way, except one random conversation with the rehab guy. Usually it’s a good thing, because it surprises you, but in this case I felt like they didn’t built on the idea of depression and suicide, they only did at the drinking. So the suicide was a WTF moment, because I didn’t understand how he got there. Just because the manager was mean and pushed some buttons? Drunk people are not all suicidal, are they? I just felt like they could have built more on the depressed nature of Jackson. [END SPOILER]
The movie was also a bit dramatic, overall. They knew how to pull those strings to make you cry. The more I think about it, the more I see the clichees they used throughout the film. But you know what? They used it because they knew it would work..and it did. All the women in the cinema were crying and I got a little emotional, too, at the end. I would have cried, if I didn’t hear a woman in the theater sobbing, actually crying hysterically, and that kind of ruined the moment for me and I relaxed.
Overall, I liked the movie and I get it why people are so crazy about it. I also think the movie will have overwhelmingly positive responses because it’s pretty commercial: easy to watch, good actors, good music, dramatic ending. Plus, let’s be honest, the press for it is insane. But most importantly, it’s a story told before in so many ways, a story that worked before and will work now. And people will definitely buy it. And yes, it will win Oscars. Not all are deserved, but I guess that’s Hollywood for you!
P.S. I mentioned “A star is born” in my Awards Season recap for 2019, so I’m glad I managed to see it!