Bradley Cooper plays Jackson, a famous singer/songwriter who once he walks off the stage is a raging alcoholic dealing with his past. After one performance, he heads into the nearest bar he can find, and there performing is Lady Gaga’s Ally, who captivates him straight away. The two begin a passionate relationship as Ally’s star rises while Jackson’s declines.
The film starts off fantastic, full of energy and speeds along at an exceedingly fast pace, it felt as though the audience were given a feeling of what it is like to be a rock star, just a constant movement of performances, beautiful women, and special moments repeated ad-nauseum. However, Cooper played it brilliantly as the frenetic pace didn’t out-stay its welcome and the pace of the film in the latter second act slowed down a considerable amount.
Taking the audience from such a high action pace to suddenly slamming them into a slow, often glacial pace, is whiplash for the senses and it takes a little while to adjust to not having scenes shoot by one after another with very little emotion attached to them. The majority of the emotion is built up firstly in the second act and then expanded upon even more in the third act as it heads towards the end.
With such a dramatic change of pacing it is jarring and makes the film feel lopsided. There’s no doubt that some people will have a preference for which half of the film they prefer, that’s how different the halves feel.
Another problem with having such a dramatic change in the pacing is that the audience is only give the latter half of the film to start to truly care for these characters, which frankly isn’t enough. While Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper give strong performances, it’s not quite strong enough to get you emotionally invested in such a short time period.
The script has a lot to do with that, it feels like the writers tried to lay it out like a bad relationship, at first everything is amazing and new, but as time goes on minutes become hours and you’re just not happy with how you’ve spent your time. There is some resemblance to Johnny Cash and June Carter’s relationship as shown in the fantastic ‘Walk the Line’. However Joaquin Phoenix and Reese Witherspoon are better actors, and were given a more powerful script to work with. The comparisons though can’t help but to be made as A Star is Born does feel very derivative, even if it is a remake.
The story is uninteresting, due to its derivative nature, there’s nothing new brought to the table in either a technical sense or a story-telling sense. It’s just simply a very basic love story centred around a rock star and an unknown singer who with his help becomes famous.
The music is well written and performed, definitely the strongest aspect of the film, behind Cooper and Gaga. They were very heartfelt and added credibility to not only the performances but the film itself. Gaga, understandably was in her element during these performances, but still managed to remain as her character with little insecurities and quirks. The songs worked perfectly in this film.