A Star is Born featuring Oscar award nominee Bradley Cooper and Grammy winning artist Lady Gaga has been out for quite some time now. Somewhere in New Jersey tonight, it would be shown three more times after this is written, and all day tomorrow. Crowds flood the theaters in anticipation of whether the 1937 version with Janet Gaynor and Fredric March, the 1954 version with Judy Garland and James Mason, or the 1976 version with Barbra Streisand and Kris Kristofferson will draw parallels to tonights feature. The one question that still remains is does Bradley Coopers 2018 version of A Star is Born suffice?
To understand the full complexity that this movie has, it simply cannot be seen just once. A Star is Born is the kind of movie that will play over and over again in your mind long after it plays on the big screen. It acts as the reality check no one knew they needed, and it matters. The depth of these characters goes beyond Hollywood and cannot adequately be compared to any other movie like it. It is one thing to give a character a heart, but it is another to give it a soul. Jackson Maine is a struggling alcoholic who feels the music and his emotions all too deeply, all too often. From beginning to end, the alcoholism presents itself as a weight on Jacksons shoulder that he doesn’t feel the urge to shake. The line between just having a life as a half-deaf, passionate rock star and having an actual problem with alcohol is blurred, as it was for most rock stars. As he started his journey to recovery, he often found bottles along the way, and left no stone- or bottle, unturned. At the start of the movie, you are immediately submerged in the classic rock theme. Jackson on stage with crowds as big and as passionate as Woodstock and the strum of an electrifying electric guitar that places you front and center in his world. The classic rock and rocker slowly seem to fade in one way or another when it is met with the modern pop era. The soundtrack that accompanies the movie does it just as much justice. With included dialogue, the songs flow as the story does. An opening to the rift of a guitar to the peak of a rock-pop love, to a ballad to finish off the film. The look of a rock star who ends up an alcoholic will look fiction to only the members of a few audiences, but could very much be real others. Not based on a true story, but there could very well be a Jackson Maine out there. Ally is a waitress struggling to get by and be on time to where she’s going when her and Jackson cross paths. A girl who sees celebrities no bigger or better than another human in the world, sees Jackson for who he truly is. She is immediately against the dehumanization of famous personas as she ends up singing in a grocery store parking lot with peas around her hand after an unfortunate turn of events at a dive bar. Ally holds her ground throughout the whole film and never truly lets her real self out of sight even with a million other distractions pulling her in another direction.
Jackson, cemented into the idea that authenticity can get you more places than not, and Ally, wired into the thought of what others think, fall in love in the likeliest of unlikely ways. At a drag bar (a praise to Gaga’s fanbase) in the beginning of the film, love at first sight is proven to be true. The duo had an overwhelming love for music and each other that they were almost not meant to be together. This movie is a test of strength and love, and just how much you are willing to fight for those worth fighting for. It is often questioned, is love enough to keep a relationship together? Of course, our modern human nature, we love things more than people, and use people more than things. It is the tale of a perfect storm and two lovers who find calmness in all the thunder and lightning booming around them. It is simply only a matter of time before the walls come crashing down, and the water comes rushing in. There is no shallow end to this movie. Jackson and Ally both have the overflowing baggage, and both of them feel the need to unpack each others. The movie unpacks just that, and leaves it repacked and folded by the end.
The part that we needed the most is the glimmer of hope for humanity this movie shines. The fact that music can heal. It can heal our hearts, our brokenness, and the most beautiful thing is that we can lose ourselves in the music, but we can find ourselves in it too. The world is just how you see those twelve notes. As Jackson Maine explains in the film, everyone is talented, but it is what you say and how you say it that matters. From the ashes of a broken home, or every other American family, a Star is Born.
“If you don’t dig deep into your f***ing soul, you won’t have legs.” -Jackson Maine