A Star is Born starts with a Big Bang and ends in supernova

Katherine Muller

Getting past her outlandish style choices and heavily-edited pop hits, “A Star is Born” reveals a more raw, honest version of pop star Lady Gaga than what is often depicted on social media and through pop culture in general. Gaga reinvents herself throughout the movie as she transforms into a struggling artist, allowing the audience to see a different side of her artistic abilities and true talent without autotune getting in the way.

Bradley Cooper, who directs and stars in the movie, also breaks out of his traditional acting roles as he showcases his surprisingly melodic vocals, featured in many songs throughout the film. Additionally, since “A Star is Born” is Cooper’s first directing role in a major motion picture, the directing skill involved should be viewed with an even higher praise.

The storyline begins with Jackson Maine (Cooper), a country-rock artist at the peak of his career, struggling with alcoholism and drug addiction, a secret hidden from his fans. While desperately looking for a drink following one of his shows, he meets struggling singer Ally Campana (Gaga) at a drag bar. As Campana performs at the bar, Maine is immediately blown away by her voice and intrigued by her feisty yet friendly character. After spending the night together, Maine invites her to one of his performances.

Gazing at Campana, Maine watches her perform an original song at one of his shows
Gazing at Campana, Maine watches her perform an original song at one of his shows

The love story develops from there, as Maine pushes Campana to perform on stage at his shows, where she eventually gets discovered and her own music career takes off. While Campana rises to the top, winning Grammy awards and performing on “Saturday Night Live,” Maine approaches rock bottom as his struggle with addiction worsens in tandem with his spiraling career.

While much of this love story does come with a fairy-tale romance, the storyline showcases the realities of addiction and how relationships and life overall can suffer as a consequence.

The mature content matter, which includes explicit scenes of Maine consuming drugs and overdosing as well as his reckless and destructive behavior while drunk, is unique in comparison to gushy and impractical romantic comedies. While the film features much of the whirlwind romance that rom-com lovers are familiar with, the story goes deeper than a “too good to be true” love story. “A Star is Born” adds a flux of intimacy, emotion and heartbreak. That being said, the story content may be above the limits than what many students can handle, making its R rating fitting. Additionally, this is also not the movie for someone who relishes happy endings, as the ending of this film can be quite shocking and even traumatic for unprepared viewers. On the other hand, for adult audiences or young adults that are ready for the content, this movie is a fantastic choice for anyone that enjoys music, tearjerkers, romance and drama.

The storyline is not the only component of the movie that makes it realistic and different from other drama and romance movies. As director, Cooper utilizes many close-up shots and angles for the majority of the movie. These shots are able to better capture the emotion of the movie and its characters, a key aspect of the film that makes it successful and worth seeing. Close-up angles are used especially in scenes where Campana and Maine are either falling in love or fighting, allowing you to connect to the characters on a more personal level, making viewers truly feel Campana and Maine’s relationship as if it were their own.

Writing songs together, Maine brings Campana on tour with him
Writing songs together, Maine brings Campana on tour with him.

This movie is the fifth rendition of “A Star is Born,” as four other versions of the same plot and title were released in 1937, 1954, 1976 and 2013, but features throughout this version set it apart from the rest. For example, this movie is able to successfully blend the traditional plot line with modern touch-ups including the drama and romance aspects following Campana and Maine’s relationship and pop influences. Although these components play large roles in the movie, it is impossible to miss the talent involved in the film’s music album, “A Star is Born,” featuring 34 original songs, including “Shallow” and “I’ll Never Love Again,” both of which have topped multiple music charts since their release.

While the old-fashioned rock music fused with pop and country is euphonic enough, Gaga and Cooper’s vocals are what make the songs truly stand out. Gaga, with six Grammys and a decade-long career, is no stranger to the music industry. However, through singing with a slower style, differently than her traditional pop, her talent is evident and she proves again and again what a gift she has. Cooper, on the other hand, shocks viewers with his amazing singing capabilities, a side of the actor that was previously unseen.

Painting Gaga and Cooper in a new light not only illustrates their true talent but makes the film complete with outstanding music. The soundtrack represents the movie as a whole by not only using lyrics that represent “A Star is Born,” but by correlating the themes of the film with the music. The way the songs and storyline intertwine is flawless, something movies rarely master. Additionally, the practical take on the romance plotline renders this movie a success in all aspects, making it a must-see for mature audiences who can appreciate the film’s dark and serious content.