An old story (A Star Is Born movie review)

“A Star Is Born”, directed by Bradley Cooper, is a tale about stars – when one is rising up to shine, another one is falling down, fading. It’s not only a law of nature, but also a basic rule of show business, which Ally (great Lady Gaga) and Jack (amazing Cooper) will find out in a pretty painful and harmful way. She is an unknown singer that works in a restaurant and sometimes sings on an underground stage in a gay bar. He is a beloved by crowd king of country music, who lives a life of sensitive and self-destructive idol that hasn’t be able to work through past traumas and denies accepting the fact that his hearing is failing him badly. Their first meeting turns into a passionate romance, which could save both of them – Ally from burring her dreams and Jack from himself. Nevertheless, this tale has only one happy, or rather partially, ending. When she starts to glow, he is getting closer to the bottom of both – career and existence. Cooper as director of “A Star Is Born” repeats old story and doesn’t manage to add to it anything that would make it at least a little bit less predictable and obvious, but at the same time he uses all those schemes in a way that shows the power and charm of old tales.

In Jack Ally finds a mentor; he sees in her a muse – she brings sun, joy and hope to his dark world that he recently watches through a glass of buzz that rarely leaves his hand. In Cooper’s movie old myth of Galatea and Pygmalion, which inspires filmmakers since cinema was invented, becomes a frame for a bitter-sweet tale about the gleams and shadows of pop culture industry that lets the most lucky and talented ones to go from zero to hero, but at the same time demands a payment – artistic compromises that force you to choose between remaining faithful to yourself and answering to audience’s and industry’s demands. We see Ally being torn apart by her ideals and her manager’s strategies. Being successful seems to be possible only when making deals with a devil, but – what’s important – in Cooper’s movie nothing is black and white. A rising star must accept show business’s rules, but it doesn’t mean that she also must give up on her soul. Living the pop culture dream is shown as permanent negation between yourself and creation of yourself that is beloved by the crowd. Nevertheless, Ally’s manager (very good Rafi Gavron) remains the darkest and the most schematic of all characters – he represents a stereotypical figure of cold-hearted agent that is irreplaceable at his job, but not very good in being a human, emphatic human being.

“A Star Is Born” also tells another old story – about bitter-sweet love of two artists that inspire and destroy each other at the same time. Last but not least – is a thrilling portrait of an alcoholic, who turns himself into a wreck of human being and turns the life of those who love him in a hell on earth. Cooper is pretty amazing in performing drama of his character – his creation is thrilling and heart-breaking, but neither too theatrical nor melodramatic. His movie is a spectacular show with great music and beautiful, stunning photos, but at the same time – thanks to all cast – very intimate and that’s what makes is so pleasant to watch.

A story that is told in the movie “A Star Is Born” is pretty naïve and too predictable to call it engaging, but at the same the chemistry between Cooper and Gaga makes you want their story last forever. Nevertheless, the whole production could turn out unbearable if it wasn’t for operator Matthew Libatique, whose camera gets very close to the characters – on the stage, but also in private situations and in very sensual way portraits emotions written on their faces and bodies. Sound specialists also give to “A Star Is Born” some extra points – they manage to recreate the acoustic impression of watching a live concert. Musically Cooper’s movie is absolutely phenomenal, which is possible because of wonderful songs, great voices and – last but not least – faultless sound editing.