Remakes and reboots of films and television shows have always been a thing, but in 2018, there seems to be an increasing number of familiar faces and franchises on both the big and small screen due to our society’s loving obsession with nostalgia.
However, the risk of revisiting can lead to the possibility of audiences wondering if the remake will hold up to the original. There is more of a likelihood for possible disappointment due to the long-lasting connection between the audiences and their most loved moments. In the case of A Star Is Born, this franchise is not foreign to taking these chances.
2018’s A Star Is Born is actually a remake of a remake of a remake. With the last installment being in 1976, it was time for Bradley Cooper to take on the treasured project and expose a whole new generation to the Hollywood classic with the help of Lady Gaga. The combination of this being Cooper’s directorial debut and Gaga’s first leading role in a feature film gave them the perfect opportunity to reimagine the story while still holding on to the essence of past versions.
Jackson Maine, portrayed by Cooper, is a famous country singer who witnesses a performance by Ally, portrayed by Gaga, in a drag club. Amazed by her talent, Jackson spends the rest of the night with Ally discussing topics that ranged from songwriting, the music industry and their stories. Jackson decides to invite Ally to his next show and even encourages Ally to sing “Shallow” on stage with him, which becomes a viral hit on YouTube.
Following the internet success, Jackson invites Ally to go on tour with him and they soon begin a romantic relationship and a marriage later on. Ally eventually gets signed to a record label and sees her dreams being realized. However, she is steered away from the country-esque music and is marketed towards pop. After being encouraged to change her image to fit the mold of a pop star, her stardom begins to rise.
With Gaga actually experiencing what it is like to be a female in the music industry herself, her portrayal of Ally is even more believable. The audience learns that there is a price when it comes to fame and it isn’t always the artist’s own vision that wins. Pressures of female artists to look, act and sing a certain way to “appeal to the masses” has been happening for decades. Gaga portrays these experiences better than anyone else could have.
The whirlwind romance of Jackson and Ally is filled with many peaks and valleys. Jackson’s battle with alcoholism is a huge focus within the story and audiences realize that this story is not just about a musical romance. After too many alcohol fueled incidents, Jackson is sent to rehab to recover. Ally suggests to her record producer the idea of bringing Jackson on tour with her once he gets back home, but he refuses and Ally cancels her tour to care for her husband. Ally’s deep concern for her husband despite her skyrocketing career is admirable and gifts the audience with the powerful theme of love conquering all barriers.
What sets this modern version apart from its predecessors is the implementation of character development, especially with Jackson’s story. The audience gets an insight into Jackson’s early life and explains all the elements that have influenced his inner demons. Although music surrounds the film, the connection between Ally and Jackson outside of the music allows for a deeper understanding of who they are as people instead of these larger than life stars.
Tackling the heartbreaking reality of addiction and how it impacts lives daily becomes one of the most critical aspects of this film. Jackson’s reality is filled with shame and regret for all that he puts Ally through because of his problems with alcohol. Ally tells Jackson that his addiction isn’t his fault because it is a disease. This was a standout moment due to our society’s current movement relating to the importance of mental health and erasing all of the stigmas that come along with it.
Cooper and Gaga surprised us with their performances, but in a good way. Not being a professional singer himself, Cooper was wildly impressive with his vocals as well as his involvement in the songwriting and producing process for the soundtrack. Gaga takes on this big role with such ease and her rarely seen vulnerability as an actress is difficult to look away from.
Cooper’s direction with this installment is one of the most memorable of the year. From the electric connection between Cooper and Gaga’s characters down to the outstanding soundtrack that intertwines into the story so effortlessly, it is safe to say that this reboot did not let us down.