We're far from the shallows now.
For months, we’ve heard how good A Star is Born is from critics who have seen it at film festivals.
Many have called it a serious awards contender. Others have gone as far as to say that it’s the currently Oscar front-runner to beat. Essentially, everyone seems to be head-over-heels in love with A Star is Born, meaning the hype around this movie has been unreal.
Which might be why I left the theater slightly disappointed.
Directed by Bradley Cooper, A Star is Born follows world-famous musician Jack (also Cooper) on a national tour. He loves his job and getting to perform music to sold-out crowds, but he also has another passionate love: alcohol.
Love might be an understatement, in fact. He’s a straight-up alcoholic who will go just about anywhere and everywhere to get a drink. That’s how he finds himself in a drag bar after a show late one evening, a place that his sober self would never envision himself in.
Lucky for him that he went though, as that’s the night be met Ally (Lady Gaga).
Ally is not a professional musician. She might hope to be someday but, for now, she’s stuck waiting tables, living in her father’s house and taking whatever kind of gig that she can get.
As she takes the stage in the drag bar on that fateful eve, the crowd goes completely silent as she begins beautifully performing a French song, “La Vie en rose.”
Jack is instantly in love, to the point where he skips his flight so that he can wait around after the show is over and meet Ally in-person. Ally is shocked, but goes along with it, as the two start bonding over their love of music and songwriting.
A couple of random bar fights (there is no reason, whatsoever, why Ally punches that one guy in the face) and bags of frozen peas later, the two are completely in love.
That all happens in one night, by the way. From there, Jack starts inviting Ally up on stage with him, turning her into an instant star as the public instantly falls in love with her.
Their careers then starting heading in very different directions. Ally becomes a new trend, as she leans into the pop music side of things, while Bradley Cooper tries to stay true to his genre of music without really finding much luck, then turning to the bottle more and more to cope.
You can probably guess where things go from there.
A Star is Born is not a bad movie. There’s still plenty to like here, which overall creates a film I’d still consider to be good.
In fact, the first 45-minutes or so, I thought were great. Despite an opening song that sounded less than great (it’s not my genre of music, sure, but I still wouldn’t have paid 10 cents to see that song performed live), the set-up and initial connection between the two characters felt natural and real. I loved everything in the drag bar, the parking lot and the show in which the two perform together for the first time, as it all felt well-crafted and well-realized.
From there, however, things start to take a turn for the worst and the script for A Star is Born just isn’t quite up to task.
The film gets caught on a cycle of ‘Bradley Cooper gets drunk and passes out somewhere, Lady Gaga comes to rescue him and tells him never to do that again, Bradley Cooper agrees but then does it again anywhere’ for some time, without ever really adding anything new or all that interesting to the equation when they do it.
That’s not necessarily a death sentence for A Star is Born, but the problem is that the movie doesn’t really seem to have anything else on its mind. The characters, the love story and even the music itself all get caught up in this cycle, as they’re all shoved to the side for pretty much the remainder of the movie.
As a result, any attempt to inject any of these into the movie feels pretty forced or out-of-place from what we previously knew about the character — i.e. There was nothing to suggest Ally would become a sell-out pop-star prior to it happening.
Again, I don’t want to give the impression that A Star is Born is this terrible movie all the other critics are dead wrong about. Cooper and Lady Gaga both give great performances that their sure to get nominated for, as does Sam Elliot, who plays Cooper’s older brother.
It’s also an incredibly good-looking movie, as the shots and cinematography are really well-realized, especially when considering that A Star is Born is the first movie Bradley Cooper has ever directed.
Music-wise, there are a couple of instant hits. Two of them, to be exact, as “Maybe It’s Time” and “Shallow” are guaranteed to be nominated for Best Original Song, with “Shallow” being the lock-in to win (and I have no problem with that). I can’t deny, however, that I was hoping for a little more. Considering A Star is Born is about music, I was hoping to fall in love with this entire soundtrack. I don’t hate the other songs, but they also aren’t all that memorable either.
A Star is Born will still likely get nominated for Best Picture and all kinds of other awards. It might even win. Personally, I’m not buying into all that hype. I wouldn’t even be that mad if it doesn’t score a Best Picture nomination, as the script for A Star is Born feels really flawed. Not everyone feels that way, though, as I might be in the minority on this one. The theater I saw the movie with all seemed to love it so, please, go see it for yourself and come away with your own opinion.
Watch the trailer for A Star is Born here and then let us know, in the comments below, what you thought of the movie!
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