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Review: “A Star is Born”

The newest remake of "A Star is Born" focuses on the relevant issues of a modern love story. Slight spoilers for "A Star is Born" below.

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With three versions of “A Star is Born” already in existence, many would wonder why remake this story. However, Bradley Cooper’s 2018 version brings a modern twist on the story, and it revolves more around problems that are prevalent in today’s world than those of the previous installments.

Unlike in the earlier versions, it seems the star of the film has changed along with the time period and setting. Cooper makes his directorial debut in this film, which ultimately shifts the focus of the film to his own character. The story went from focusing on the star on the rise, Lady Gaga’s Ally, to Cooper’s Jackson Maine. However, his character is one-note which make him difficult to connect to and sympathize for.

When his character is released from rehab towards the end of the film, it only takes 10 minutes of screen time for him to spiral back to his old ways and his eventual downfall. At the end of the film, he is still the same character we were introduced to in the opening scene. He learns no lesson and spends little of his time realizing how his actions have been affecting the people around him.

The true star of the film is Gaga’s Ally, a woman that many viewers can recognize from their own lives. At the beginning of the film, we see how Ally puts up a tough exterior to mask the insecurities that she has locked away and almost made peace with. Her fight in the bar contrasts her giving up on her music and believing the critics that told her she would never make it in music. She pursues a relationship with Jackson Maine despite being fully aware of his drinking problem. While her actions at times seem stupid and illogical, she is relatable and realistic, and many would make the same choices she makes in her position.

The production design and lighting in the first half of the film really immerses the audience into the world of “A Star is Born”. This is most evident in the bar scene and the musical performances. The drag bar is illuminated with blue and pink neon lights that reflect off everyone in the bar. When Ally arrives backstage at Jackson Maine’s concert, she and the audience are overwhelmed by the loud music, bright red lights and the deafening crowd.

However, the second half was predictable and felt drawn out. I caught myself checking how much time was left more than a couple times toward the end. By the midpoint of the film, the conclusion becomes clear and the audience spends the remainder of the film just anticipating the events that will happen in the last five minutes. Because of this, the audience leaves the theatre forgetting what they liked about the first half. The film loses its magic as it approaches its almost two and a half hour run time.

The biggest surprise of the film is Cooper’s voice. For someone was never trained to sing, he held his own next to Gaga and never struggled to make his stage presence known. When he steps on stage in the opening scene, the audience believe that he is a professional musician who has been performing for years. Another element that added to the overall feeling of the film were the live vocals from Cooper and Gaga. The live performances created the feeling of being at a concert or music festival for the audience sitting in the theater.

The best thing to come out of the film is the soundtrack. A mix of Jackson Maine’s rock with Ally’s pop hits from the film – the soundtracks covers multiple genres of music.  Ally’s music never felt too distant from Gaga’s normal sound, so fans of hers have nine new songs to hold them over until her next official album. I have had the soundtrack stuck in my head since I saw the film, despite leaving the theater slightly annoyed by how the film played out.

Despite its problems, this version of “A Star is Born” offers relevant insight into today’s world and the people who inhabit it. Every character feels real like you could walk into them on the street, and every location feels like a place you could stumble upon while driving through town. The film is rooted on realism, which is what allows so many audience members to connect to it so deeply.

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Marcus High School's Online Publication
Review: “A Star is Born”