Review: A Star Is Born
We're far from the shallow now.
Jackson Maine (Bradley Cooper) is a popular musician going from gig to gig with a bottle of whiskey in hand. After a show, desperate for a drink, he wanders into a drag bar and sees Ally (Lady Gaga) perform a beautiful rendition of La Vie En Rose. Smitten with her voice, he pushes her to sing her own songs, to get up on stage with him, and eventually turns her into a super star.
We all knew Bradley Cooper was a solid actor. Turns out he's a solid singer and director too. At this point I'm not sure there's anything he can't do. Jackson is a very showy role for him and it really feels like he's really stepping out of his comfort zone. Lady Gaga is also great here. She was the biggest question mark for me. Obviously I knew she'd be dynamite the minute she started singing and she was, but the acting I wasn't sold on. She struggles here and there with the more dramatic bits, but this is her 3rd acting role. It's to be expected.
I think this film is fine. There are parts that work well. When Ally and Jack sing "The Shallow" together for the first time, and every time Ally is behind a piano singing her songs after that, those moments are beautiful. The rest is typical melodrama with some Sam Elliott platitudes but it's never once bad or boring. But there's one thing that really bothered me that stopped me from going - for lack of a better word - gaga over this.
Ally and Jackson's relationship has a power imbalance that made me uncomfortable. He's not abusive and Ally is not completely without agency, but it's always Jackson pushing her to do something. Yes, he gets her on stage for the first time and makes her realize her dream. That's fine, but it's the little things that follow. Like passing out drunk after a show, then waking her up for sex on his time. Like smearing cake over her face that is then played as something cute. To proposing after a fight - then getting married all in the span of about two hours. The most egregious parts happen in the last 20 minutes or so of the film, and those I won't spoil. I felt like Jackson didn't give her any choices. He makes every one for her. I know the film is supposed to be a meditation on fame, and how as Ally's star grows she gets less and less control, but I didn't think that was supposed to happen with the relationship they're choosing to sell this movie on as well. It just rubbed me the wrong way.
I might be alone in that complaint, but this film is good and the soundtrack is extremely catchy.
Memorable Quote: "There should be a whole billboard of your fucking nose" - Jackson (Bradley Cooper)