Francisco Melendez, E23 Reporter

“A Star is Born” (2018) is the fourth official remake of “A Star is Born” to be released in theatres, and it has a lot to live up to. The 1937 version was nominated for 7 Academy Awards (and won for original story); the 1954 version was nominated for 6 Academy Awards; the 1976 version was nominated for 4 (and won for original song). There is a lot of pressure on first time director Bradley Cooper’s fourth adaptation. Fortunately, the film is an overwhelming success, and is already likely to continue the Academy Award streak from its predecessors.

The biggest draw for this film is how it takes a raw, honest look at film stardom and how it can lead someone down a dark path. This is admittedly nothing too new, but the interesting aspect is seeing how the two leads maneuver through stardom in very different ways. Bradley Cooper plays Jackson, a famous middle-aged singer that struggles with his alcohol and drug addiction, leading him to constantly sabotage his own happiness. The story begins when he discovers a hidden talent in Lady Gaga’s character, Ally: a young woman who loves to sing, but has never had a chance to make it big because the industry perceives her as not pretty enough.

The big draw of the movie comes from seeing how Jackson changes throughout the film, as Ally becomes more and more famous, to the point where she surpasses him in current relevance. When it comes to showing the withered state that Jackson finds himself in, the movie manages to create sympathy for him, while not excusing his deplorable behavior towards the people close to him. Bradley Cooper sells the performance with a lot of emotion and tragedy as he crumbles from just a man who drinks too much, to someone who buries himself in drugs and alcohol to try to ignore the fact that he’s missed his time in the spotlight.

Gaga is equally amazing, but unfortunately she doesn’t have as much to work with. Her character is sympathetic, as she suddenly has all this fame thrust upon her and doesn’t quite know how to deal with all of it, but the movie focuses more on her role as Jack’s wife than her journey into fame. In the end it’s not a huge loss, since Jack is an interesting character and Ally’s struggle to deal with seeing the man she loves suffer is definitely compelling. None the less, it would’ve been more interesting to see her arc get more developed.

There’s only one other major problem: the weird pacing and passage of time in the story. A large chunk of the first act rushed through a lot of important establishing moments, and as the movie goes on it suddenly becomes clear that many months have passed, without the audience getting much indication of it. While it’s understandable that the movie would want to skip through some of the slower parts of the story, it makes it feel like the movie is playing on fast forward. Additionally, since the fastest moving part is the beginning of the relationship, it can feel like a lot of key information about them was skipped, and like their romance comes about too quickly.  For such an important part of the story, it’s shocking how glossed over the forming of their romance is.

However, that’s far from enough to bring down this movie. Kooper and Gaga’s performances are must-sees, and easy contenders for the Academy Awards. Kooper makes a great turn as a director, and the story will be sure to resonate with anyone. The only thing that people should keep in mind is that this movie is not a classic musical; any scene where the characters are singing happens on a stage, so don’t go into it expecting the same type of musical as “La La Land” or “The Greatest Showman”. If you’re even slightly interested, grab a tissue box and see it as soon as possible.

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