I went to see A Star is Born with my parents. I wasn’t expecting much, but it turns out the film was brilliant.
It’s a melodrama done well. To be honest, it was emotionally draining in parts. I don’t know about you, but there’s something about people taking ages to say something simple that gets to me.
Life is like, isn’t it?
You meet with that person to have that “important talk”. It’s in a public place so that it can’t get too harsh. You spend the whole time they’re doing everything except for talk about. It’s only at that moment that you are both about to leave that’s when it happens.
“We need to talk.”
Important conversations don’t happen in cafe’s, they occur on the street corner down a bit.
A Star is Born captured that feeling well.
For that A Star is Born is one of the top films I’ve seen this year.
A Star is born: a Spoiler-free review.
It’s a remake of a remake of a remake. I know some of you reading might not like spoilers if you haven’t seen it but come on. What do you think is going to happen in the end?
I’ll do a spoiler free review. A Star is born one of those films that can’t be spoiled, but I’ll avoid it in this section.
The plot concerns two music stars at transitional points in their careers. Lady Gaga is one on her way up, and Bradley Cooper is the one on his way down.
Cooper is a country and western singer who encounters her by chance looking for a bar to get a drink. She sings La Vie en Rose, he falls in love. The rest of the film follows their relationship.
Cooper is on directing duties. He takes to the task as a barfly does to a beer. This is so confidently directed. The film it reminded me of the most was The Wrestler. It may have to do with the shared cinematographer. It’s more to do with this being a film that is done handheld, with more extended, takes in close up. This is a film about people’s faces.
Cooper has made several stylistic choices that add to the impact of the film.
I could tell you what they are, but the best way to tell you what it does so well is by comparing it’s contemporary. The Freddie Mercury biopic Bohemian Rhapsody.
Bohemian Rhapsody is a by the numbers biopic. It’ closer to the Juke Box musicals than an actual representation of what it was like. Mythmaking rather than what actually happened.
Queen the band had final approval on the film. The filmmakers were hampered.
Having to present a sanitised, family-friendly, version of the band’s shenanigans.
Anyone hoping to see reenactments of the cocaine parties. Little people with trays on their head will leave disappointed.
The film has to tell the whole chronological story rather than focus on a defining moment. You’ll see karaoke versions of all the hits. The film is shown in a way that tries to fit itself into cookie cutter Hollywood formula. Rather than let loose with the messy history that is the story of Queen. The structure butts head with the message. The film needs its third act. That brings us to…
The Problem with having Live Aid as your Third Act
Bohemian Rhapsody’s big moment is the reunion at Live Aid. Overlooking that they weren’t split up at the time let’s move on. The problem with having that as your big moment is that Live Aid was a charity moment. It jars when the two butt heads. “This will be our comeback. The world will remember how amazing we are…Also, it’ll be good for the starving kids of Africa *cough*”.
When you see the film’s Live Aid concert, it’s done most conventionally. Camera flies over the crowd. Shot of singer, shot of guitarist, a shot of the drummer, crowd shot, close crowd shot. By the numbers.
Back to a Star is Born
A Star is Born does not have these problems. It is not bound by being based on “real life” it does not have to sand down the edges. When it comes to the concert scenes the camera stays with the main characters, it’s always on stage with them. It is a stylistic extension of the rest of the film.
What holds back Bohemian Rhapsody liberates A Star is Born.
Why has it been remade every couple of generations?
There are four versions of A Star is Born.
What is so unique about this story that it keeps getting retold?
There are several reasons, financial, brand recognition etc. We’re not going to focus on those.
Here is my hypothesis on what I think is the main reason this film was made.
A Star is Born is remade over and over because it speaks to your subconscious.
Spoilers by the way.
Bradley Cooper is a drunken mess, he goes to therapy and all that, but he sees that he is holding back Lady Gaga. He does what he feels is the right thing and kills himself.
I would have like to have seen a more cyclical ending to the film. After Gaga sings at his memorial, maybe she stops off in a bar where she hears a young man in drag singing. I’m getting off topic.
The reason it speaks to your subconscious is that you recognise the role of male and female. Not in the sense of gender roles. What I’m talking about is the duality, the male and female that exists within us all.
I may have mentioned this before, but I’ll state it again here.
Men build the house, women make it a home.
Is that sexist? I don’t care.
Bradley Cooper’s character built a career for the two of them, she gets him to open up. The tragedy of the film is that Cooper sees the destruction he has caused. He doesn’t try to reform it. Instead, Cooper decides to take it out. He does it through suicide.
You and I understand that a man destroying himself to push the woman on is part of the natural order. Women have more worth than men, they’re the ones who have the babies.
You’ve probably read the following question before on this website.
Would Titanic be the big blockbuster that it is had they took turns on the door?
Why it won’t happen again
A Star is Born feels like it’s from a different era.
It’s a film about a man who helps a woman he’s sleeping with get a leg up in the entertainment world. At no point does she accuse him of “sexual misconduct”. Clearly, this is a work of fiction.
There’s a chance that this might be the last incarnation of this film that we see. At least with the opposite sexes. If you see this remade again within the next twenty years here’s my prediction.
Both the main cast are played by women, and there is no death in the end. You get a happy ending. It might be right on, but it won’t sit right, and people will bemoan that “They just don’t make em like they used to.”