A Star is Born [movie reaction]

I first saw the trailer of A Star is Born when I watched Crazy Rich Asians (link to my review) in SM Aura last August. That trailer was so beautiful it made me cry. I usually dislike movie trailers with all their sound effects and flashiness to attract viewers. For me, most trailers are overdramatic and sometimes does not actually reflect the movie and often create expectations that disappoint. This film's trailer showed what the story will be about: an aspiring singer who has given up on herself and the established star who believes in her and helps her make her dreams come true. It took me a while to realize that the lead actress is Lady Gaga! She had no makeup, she dressed like a normal person and dyed her hair back to her natural color.

I like Lady Gaga and her music, but I haven't really caught up on it since her Born This Way era. As an artist, I really admire how she evolves and her music is different in every album. A Star is Born also has music, and it's very different from the usual Lady Gaga songs when we think of her. I think that's great because you hear Ally's music (her character), not Lady Gaga.

In this story, Ally (Lady Gaga) is a waitress who also sings on drag bars. Jackson Maine (Bradley Cooper), a famous rock star going around town after a concert looking for a drink, happens to go to the place where Ally sings. Jackson immediately likes her and they talk and get to know each other. Fans recognize Jackson and ask for pictures, which led to Ally punching a guy. Jackson asks her if she writes her own songs, and Ally reveals that she has tried but has given up. Ally sings a song she wrote for Jackson, which moves him. He invites Ally to his Arizona concert. Ally quits her job the same day and goes.

To her shock, Jackson plays her song "Shallow" and invites her to go onstage. Though initially nervous, Ally goes and sings her heart out. Shallow is a really beautiful song and it's the pivotal scene of the whole movie. Ally finally gets noticed, believes in herself again, and their relationship begins. Though they're off to a good start, personal problems start to creep in. Jackson is an alcoholic with a worsening hearing problem, and when Ally finally gets to be a solo artist and becomes more successful than him, he gets worse.

Ally, who used to write songs on the country/rock genre, is now marketed as a pop singer. Jackson reminds her that she has to 'dig deep' and be authentic to her audience. Soon, Ally and Jackson must separate for a short period because of tours. Ally has her own tour coming up and Jackson has his tour too, where Ally was supposed to go with him. Jackson wakes up drunk in a friend's garden. Ally follows him and Jackson proposes with an engagement ring he tied from a string of a guitar.

Maybe a proposal is an exciting thing, but when they got married I felt dread. Ally is showing signs of codependency on Jack. And I felt quite awful for Ally because they married just when Ally was in the brink of success - is Jack trying to jeopardize Ally's success somehow? Then Jack actually shows insecurity and jealousy at Ally's success and tries to bring her down by hitting on her insecurities. "You're so fucking ugly," he tells her once, and sure it hit Ally's buttons.

Ally gets nominated for the Grammy's, and on the event itself, Jack is wasted which led to the most embarrassing and cringe-worthy scene in the movie. Jack passes out and eventually has to go to rehab for his alcoholism.

Things look like they are improving. Jack leaves rehab, the couple moves to a new house with a cute dog. Ally dreams of touring with Jackson again, but her manager disagrees. Her manager soon confronts Jackson and tells him that he is a disgrace to Ally's career. This hurts Jackson, which leads to the movie's tragic ending.

I must say that all the actors were perfect for their roles, especially Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper. The other actor that stood out for me the most was Sam Elliott as Bobby, Jackson's older brother who raised him. Bobby's there for Jackson, even if Jackson hates it. Since Jackson has a hearing problem, Bobby almost always has to lean close to Jackson and touch his face to get his attention. Every scene with them together was powerful and heartbreaking. Jackson's parents died when he was very young, so his relationship with his brother is heavy. As for the other actors, I have no comments at all.

As for the story, I felt that the relationship between Ally and Jackson was quite rushed? Well, it's a 2-hour long movie and I get that sometimes you have to get it on right away so you have time to explore their relationship and the story. There was really no explanation why Ally suddenly transitioned to pop and not on the genre she usually writes songs on with Jackson. Ally's song "Why did you do that to me?" really is not the best song in the soundtrack. It sounds like something from Lady Gaga's Just Dance era.

As for the music, it is excellent. I'm listening to the soundtrack on Spotify and each song has a special energy and as Lady Gaga says, Bradley sings from his soul and he wrote some songs himself. The song I really like is "Diggin' my Grave" because their two voices complement well. "Always Remember Us This Way" is the Ally song that's also perfect for the story. It's great how the actors worked hard to create believable characters for the film.

Prepare to cry for the last scene of the movie where Ally sings a song Jackson wrote - "I'll Never Love Again." It sounds like something from Celine Dion or Whitney Houston, those really dramatic love songs but it is very appropriate for the story and how it ended.

When I think of the movie, the themes are complex. It talks about codependency, the price of fame, alcoholism, yet it also tackles inspiration, following your dreams, and having support as an artist. Jackson was in a sensitive position in his own healing, and the demands and expectations of the industry have taken a toll on him.

For me, I know that many people suffer from addiction and alcoholism, but this is also a dangerous stereotype. There's this notion that for artists to be great, they have to experience suffering and have a host of inner demons somehow. But I've realized that we can also have art from a place of joy, abundance, and happiness. Jackson is probably the epitome of the alcoholic artist.

I love how serious and sincere this movie is. We're so used to cynicism, and this is a very hard and truthful look at a relationship that isn't always good. It may be uncomfortable to see Jack struggle with his demons and Ally doing her best for her husband and her career too. Ally having her dreams come true and believing in her own talent is beautiful, but it also has a price. A Star is Born also leaves viewers with questions and rethink how we deal with the people we love most who are struggling. A Star is Born is an unforgettable movie with a timeless story.

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