Hollywood has a love-hate relationship with remakes. Either they fail to live up to the original, like 2017’s The Mummy, or they surpass expectations. The most recent A Star is Born remake definitely falls into the latter category. Bradley Cooper lives up to the challenge as director, creating a film that is thrilling, moving and surprisingly profound.
The musical performances are captivating and the cinematography is subtle but often beautiful, but I was most impressed with the acting. Because Lady Gaga is known for her flamboyance, her nuanced, raw performance as Ally is particularly striking. During the first half of the movie, I almost forgot that I was watching Lady Gaga, rather than an unknown actress. It’s early, but I wouldn’t be surprised if she receives a Best Actress nomination at the 2019 Academy Awards. Bradley Cooper is excellent as Jack as well, though he certainly doesn’t outshine Gaga. Their chemistry is palpable and believable, and their performances capture the audience’s attention and elevate the movie to a level of excellence.
However, although I believe that A Star is Born is a great film in many ways, it is not exempt from criticism. For example, its treatment of consent is particularly troubling. Jack ignores Ally’s requests and demands many times during the movie, such as when he begins to play “Shallow” despite her initial refusal to perform it on stage with him. Similar occurrences happen periodically throughout the movie, like when Jack orders his driver to stay outside of Ally’s house until she comes with him to his concert. It’s not necessarily wrong of the movie to show these interactions as long as there is acknowledgement of the violation of consent taking place. A Star is Born lacks this acknowledgement. Is this a reason to boycott the movie? I don’t necessarily think so. However, I do think that we need to have an open dialogue about the way in which this movie and others fail to challenge patriarchal norms and serve to reinforce dangerous ideas about consent.
Additionally, one of my biggest qualms with the movie is that Cooper makes it all about who Ally is in relation to Jack rather than allowing Ally to become a fully three-dimensional character on her own merit. That’s the problem with all of the A Star is Born films: they treat their respective female character’s rise to fame as something that happens to a man. Despite Lady Gaga’s excellent performance, sometimes it feels like Ally is little more than a plot device designed to propel Jack along. I would have loved to see Ally’s development as a character in her own right rather than just how her development impacted Jack.
Overall, I think A Star is Born is a very well-made movie with some problems with its content. My biggest takeaway is that Lady Gaga is a seriously talented and underappreciated actress, and I look forward to seeing her work in the future. I’ll be interested to see how this A Star is Born is compared to the others and whether or not it stands the test of time. If you’re looking for a captivating film that’s thought-provoking and fun but challenging in some ways, I’d definitely check out this year’s A Star is Born.