Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Movie with Abe: A Star is Born

A Star is Born
Directed by Bradley Cooper
Released October 5, 2018

Fame is one of the most alluring facets of contemporary society. To be recognized by random people on the street and asked for autographs is just one of the more external elements of that achievement, and the riches and treatment that come from being admired and pampered can have a tremendous effect on how a person goes about daily life. It’s rare for someone to not be changed in any way during the process of becoming famous, and for many, getting to that point is the height of a career that can’t possibly go any higher, which can lead to misery, depression, and the looming threat of regression and failure.

Jackson Maine (Bradley Cooper) is a successful musician who wows the crowds despite being wildly high and drunk during his concerts. On one such night, he stumbles into a bar and is mesmerized by the sight and sound of Ally (Lady Gaga), an unhappy waitress with an incredible voice. Taken with her, Jack invites Ally to his next show and brings her up on stage, sparking an incredible journey that leads her to a wondrous musical career of her own. Battling his own demons, Jack finds himself unable to cope with being the one on the sidelines of someone else’s success, leading to the gradual evaporation of their whirlwind romance.

Much of this film, particularly the characters’ initial meeting, feels like a dream. Jack may be in a state of permanent drunkenness, but the affection he feels for Ally is completely genuine and overpowers his every instinct. Ally, for her part, is overwhelmed by his doting on her and gets quickly swept up by the wonder of her meteoric rise. It’s her father (Andrew Dice Clay), who, as a limo driver who encounters the rich and famous on a regular basis, best embodies the way that she deals with her newfound success, humbly shocked by the outpouring of enthusiasm and adoration from the masses. Far past that point in his career, Jack is occasionally kept in line by his elder brother and manager, Bobby (Sam Elliott), who has seen what life in the spotlight has done to exacerbate Jack’s own mental health issues.

This film is not a first-generation remake, and therefore it’s understandable that much of its content would feel familiar and recognizable. While that is true, the genuine bond that forms between its protagonists feels totally fresh and formidable. Its lengthy two hour and fifteen minute runtime - a bit longer than the film probably needed to be - is made up for by the energy and sincerity of Gaga’s performance, coupled with her voice and the original songs performed in the film. Cooper impresses in his directorial debut and turns in what may well be his best performance at the same time. Elliott and Clay provide dependable support in smaller roles that reflect their onscreen family members’ experiences. This film is undeniably an experience, one that makes a strong case that stories like this are still worth exploring.


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