A Star is Born, starring Bradley Cooper as Jackson Maine and Lady Gaga as Ally, was a provocative and moving film. The music, acting and directing were superb, but what had the most profound effect on me was the message I came away with. It may not have been the message, first-time director Cooper had in mind, but it’s what in my humble opinion resonated throughout the film: Depression, alcoholism, and addiction are diseases that are so deleterious and overpowering that even love cannot conquer them. With that said, if you made it through today fairly balanced without needing to take a drink, a hit, a shot or pop a pill, you need to shout for joy. It’s a blessing to be able to deal with life on life’s terms without any mind-alternating substances.
Unfortunately, for Cooper’s character in A Star is Born, he was not as fortunate. It’s really a paradox, because on one hand Jackson had everything—talent, money, good-looks and then Gaga’s character Ally, a young struggling artist who loved and adored him and who in a romantic scene accepted Jackson’s proposal with a ring he’d made from a guitar string. The scene featured Dave Chappelle who I must say was rather good in his role as one of Jackson’s friends who apparently had been a rocker but who had chosen married life over fame and fortune.
Another irony is that Jackson could see past Ally’s nose that I thought was perfect for her face, but that she thought was too big and what had kept her from reaching stardom. He found her nose and everything else about her beautiful and believed that she had what it took to be a star. But he wasn’t able to see that he was worthy and viable and that the pills and alcohol were preventing him from being his true self. The demons from his past had a formidable grip on him and the only way he knew how to find relief was through mind-alternating substances.
At one point in the film after hitting what should have been rock bottom and humiliating Ally beyond belief, he sought help. I knew after a few weeks in rehab, he wasn’t cured. Many aren’t. Sometimes it takes years of working on oneself to overcome childhood trauma and other events that lead one to self-medicate. I should know—be there, done that. Ally did everything she could, but in the end, it was to no avail. Needless to say, I and just about everyone else in the theater cried a river.
A Star is Born is a breath of fresh air. I know it’s been done four times before, but I don’t recall seeing the other versions. I’m glad I haven’t because it makes this one special. Cooper and Gaga are so compelling on screen, just watching them sitting in a strip mall talking about the frozen peas Cooper put on Gaga’s wrist, you’re pulled in and are riveted to their every word. Their chemistry crackles off the screen, and I found myself wondering if they’ll end up a couple in real life. The closing number by Gaga, “I’ll Never Love Again,” will make you want to run out and buy the soundtrack. I’m not your typical Gaga fan, but I have to say after this film, I have a better appreciation for her vocals and Cooper is outstanding. If you’re interested in seeing a film where two people interact with each other in a believable way, struggling through difficult emotions, with a backdrop of phenomenal music, this is the film for you.
I end this review with two words: Oscar Worthy.