My Irrelevant Review: A Star Is Born

I rarely watch movies in the theater. Instead, I put my name on the hold list at the library and watch them when my name comes up. That means I’m often watching movies years after everyone else. Sometimes I remember to put my name on this list early and get a movie shortly after it goes to DVD, which is why I’m writing about A Star is Born now.

A Star Is Born Album Cover 1976

I realize most people were talking about this Bradley Cooper remake six months ago, but I just had to put my two cents in. If you are one of the few people who haven’t seen it yet and are still unspoiled you may want to stop reading now. There are some spoilers ahead.

I have not seen the other versions of the film although it was hard to go anywhere as a child and not see the album for the 1976 version with Barbara Streisand and Kris Kristofferson. The image of the two naked stars in an embrace was both confusing and disturbing to the young version of myself. Although the 2018 version was updated, in some ways it feels as old-fashioned as that sepia-toned album cover.

Basically Implausible

I understand the story of A Star Is Born all hinges on a more successful man bringing up a younger female star as his career wanes, but I found the early scenes between Cooper playing Jackson Maine and Lady Gaga playing Ally to be unbelievable. I didn’t really see much chemistry in their first all-night date, in which we learn Maine is a drunk with a heart of gold, and Ally is a talented singer who has been overlooked because of her looks.

There is also implausibility in their interaction. When Ally sings a song she’s working on for Jackson in the parking lot of supermarket it made me cringe. Also, since it was just a few lines of the song, I didn’t believe he would be able to commit the lyrics or music to memory, which is important for the next plot point.

Not only does he remember, but has taught it to his band and is ready to sing it the next night at his concert. As Ally watches backstage, where she has been flown by private jet, he tells her he wants her to sing it.

Really? She’s only performed standards in front of a bar crowd before, but now she’s supposed to perform her song in front of an arena of fans. Oh, that’s right. Jackson is unpredictable. He would do that. What a rapscallion.

When Ally waivers, Jackson tells her he’s going to sing it anyway and starts to sing the song. Halfway through she joins him onstage at an extra microphone which happens to be on, and the crowd (who has no idea who she is) loves it. She does amazing and does not crack.

Unforgivable

The next scene is Ally cursing Jackson out about boundaries. She tells him how it was inappropriate for him to manipulate her into coming on stage. She tells him he did not have the right to steal her song.

Of course, that does not happen. No one wants to see that, right? Instead, Ally is a hit. Everyone on YouTube says so. She’s in the band! People love watching these two make out on stage.

But. She might even be better than Jackson. He’s an alcoholic and his career is on the decline. This relationship didn’t exactly start under the best circumstances.

You know the rest.

But I Did Cry

As for what’s to like about the film, I typically don’t listen to Lady Gaga music but do have a few of her songs on my digital playlist. I have somehow avoided hearing too much of “Shallow”, but found the keynote song likable enough.

I also have to admit I did cry after Jackson’s death. I cried when she was sitting with Sam Elliott, who plays his brother Bobby Maine. He tells Ally it wasn’t her fault. There seemed something real in this line. He also says:

“Jack talked about how music is essentially 12 notes between any octave
Twelve notes, and the octave repeats. It’s the same story, told over and over, forever. All any artist can offer the world is how they see those 12 notes.”

Of course, this is a take on A Star Is Born itself, a story that’s been told over and over in slightly different ways. But it may be time for a new story. This story, like this review after so much time, may be irrelevant now.

9 comments

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  1. Carol

    Interesting read – I saw the original film with Judy Garland on TV as a kid many decades ago and it was too sad for me at that young age. I saw the 70’s version but haven’t seen this latest reincarnation. Performers are a different breed and I can see why some of it doesn’t seem realistic to us. Cher has said many times she wanted to sing and was petrified and Sonny pushed her on the stage multiple times at the beginning. thanks for sharing your feelings with us.

    • Catherine Lanser

      I thought about seeing the other versions of the movies, but I probably won’t. I guess this story just isn’t for me. Thanks for stopping by.

  2. Nancy

    I enjoyed the movie when I saw it in the theatre but your observations make me see it in a different light! Both my husband and I were weepy at the end, though.

    • Catherine Lanser

      I may have thought about it differently if I hadn’t heard so much about it before. Seeing it a theater is a very different experience from watching at home too.

  3. christine

    Love your take on this. I watched it from a story structure perspective and I’ll be honest, I didn’t cry at the end. I had never seen the previous iterations of the story but it was obvious when looking at it from a story arc perspective. My friends were devastated at the end and I was like ‘oh yeah, you could really see each beat as the story progressed…’ lol
    On the believability, I am not a musician but they are a special breed. I recently read a biography of Prince and he used to spend hours and hours in the studio each night, often writing a song in a few hours that would go on to sell millions of singles. He also did almost exactly this (as the Jackson character bringing Elly on stage) to Taylor Dayne. She tells the story of him bringing her on stage to sing and she had no idea what it was they were playing, Prince told her to just sing something. Can you imagine?? but it helped her career no end i’d say!!

    • Catherine Lanser

      Christine- That is interesting about Prince and Taylor Dane. I suppose the adrenaline of performing would help a bit. I can’t imagine it myself as an introvert, but if it’s what you’ve been craving your whole life you could probably get into it pretty fast!

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