I have been a big fan of Bradley Cooper since his duo of unrelated “American Movies” came out in 2013 and 2014 (American Hustle, American Sniper). His latest film A Star is Born is not only a soulful and emotional experience to watch, but it also represents Cooper’s directing debut. Alongside Lady Gaga and Sam Elliott, Cooper takes us on a journey into the lives of two musicians in very different positions in their careers. His character Jackson Maine is a successful rockstar that falls in love with a talented young woman that he finds performing in a drag bar. As his career is on the decline because of age and drug/alcohol abuse, her career takes off and the couple relationship becomes a lot more complicated than they’d ever imagined.
(This Review is SPOILER FREE-ish)
The biggest problem that I had with the movie mostly has to do with the screenwriting in the second half. I could help but feel like the film was going from short-scene to short scene without a lot of plot-driven purpose. The issue really starts when Ally’s career starts to take off. The movie then starts jumping back and forth from her plot-line to Jackson’s. It feels a bit choppy and difficult to follow during this stretch.
Another thing I noticed was that the film presents a couple plot-lines that you think are going to really be important but in the end is kind of just left hanging. An example is how his tinnitus is really becoming an issue throughout the early plot development but that portion of the storyline kind of disappears toward the end with no resolution. In general, I just felt like the writing was a little sloppy.
My first impression of Bradley Cooper’s character Jackson Maine was that he looked a lot like one of my favorite musicians, Bear Rinehart from the band NEEDTOBREATHE. His voice also blew me away because I had no idea that he was such a talented singer and guitar player. As a whole, the cast was great, but Cooper and Lady Gaga were both exceptionally phenomenal. They both set the tone for the emotional drive of the movie with the chemistry they had together and their musical performances on stage. Also, I found out that every musical performance was actually filmed live in front of real audiences. It turns out that they would just steal about 5-10 minutes of stage time at concerts or festivals around the country. That is just so impressive to me.
A Star is Born was such an emotional ride and it is also the first movie to actually make tears come out of my face. You probably are wondering “Wait a second, this guy is a movie guy. How has he never cried during a movie before?”. Well, I don’t watch a lot of extremely sad movies and I also don’t really tend to get emotionally invested in the sad movies I do watch. That should say a lot about the job that Bradley Cooper did making me feel emotionally connected to these characters. When I watched the movie last night, I honestly hated the ending. For some reason, it felt personal to me and it left a really sour taste in my mouth. With just a few small changes, the film could have easily had a happy ending, but that’s not what they were going for. They wanted to invoke that kind of crushed emotion from the audience and they honestly nailed it. I have already listened to the soundtrack a couple times through and it is almost as emotional as the movie itself. While this style of a movie may never be my absolute favorite, when done well a movie can hi-jack the emotions of even the most heartless and stone-faced viewers like myself.
A Star is Born is a fantastic example of why I love movies. It isn’t always about the special effects or the intense fight scenes. Sometimes it’s just about pure storytelling. With good storytelling, you can take the audience on a journey. The journey I took last night engulfed me in waves of emotions ranging from curiosity and happiness to shock and dejection. I imagine this film will be getting attention come February 24th and it is certainly well-deserved. While it does get a little sloppy and difficult to follow at times, A Star is Born was definitely worth my time.