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A Star Is Born Movie Review (2018) | Bradley Cooper’s Debut Is Arresting

A Star is Born movie is powerful and plaintive, packing in plenty of great songs that sum up to be a perfect entertainer. Since, it being this age’s reboot of the same story, which we already know from the past, justifies from what Bobby (Sam Elliott) has to say:

Jack talked about how music is essentially twelve 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 twelve notes.

Debut direction of Bradley Cooper and he chooses a project so gargantuan that it gives you the jitters. So the bar was already set high. Good news! He nails it. Cooper has his own style of direction too. It’s slow, subtle, poignant and elicits emotions aplenty. A Star Is Born movie needed to be exactly that and fortunately it is.

Lady Gaga is the voice that sparks alive the female lead character of Ally in the movie. You had your doubts if she could do an actress justice. But she has done it in the past with her cameos in some movies. That experience of standing behind the camera helped her in nailing her big role. Gaga is very realistic as she gradually slithers into the skin of Ally making it one of her own. Somewhere down the line, if someone were to look back, they would remember Ally to be the face of a singer who could actually sing too. A good call in casting there!

Story and Theme of A Star Is Born Movie

Goes without saying that the story demanded its lead characters to be the heart and soul of the movie which they pretty much are. A side plot plays too with Jack trying to come to terms with his estranged brother Bobby which plays an equally important part in giving the story a great direction to traverse in.

Lady Gaga wears her flamboyance like a true star, channeling it into her character. She is unafraid of shaking her head, looking clumsy whilst she does it, unfazed by her looks onscreen, with makeup or without one. Gaga is an epitome of confidence that inspires you to lead life unbothered by people’s thoughts. She isn’t conscious but bold that’s what makes her perfect for the role. To top that she has a voice of gold and does Ally impeccable justice.

What the screenplay writers, Bradley Cooper, Eric Roth and Will Fetters, do is leverage Ally’s insecurity towards her looks, her long nose in particular and let it come into play dictating the direction of the story. That’s like a home run. Inventive! Improvising things and using it to their maximum advantage. That’s just smart thinking.

Bradley Cooper – A Powerhouse of Talent

Words fail to express the powerhouse that drives A Star Is Born movie forward –  Bradley Cooper. The multi-talented star juggles his job well between playing the protagonist of the movie and directing himself into the scenes that evoke empathy.

bradley copper in a star is born movie

Who is Jackson Maine? (Spoilers)

A drunk and a drug addict alright! Wrapping up a song in his opening scene. Could have been an encore to an ongoing concert. Who sings it? None other than Mr. Cooper himself. How talented is this bloke?

He plays Black Eyes in the beginning before making his way to a waiting car. Brad directs himself to show the soothing of the numbness he feels after a performance by taking a gulp directly from a bottle. You can listen to the tangible concern of his driver as he channels into a small talk, nevertheless looking for something to drink in a bar.

Hitherto you are thinking, there is nothing really likable about his character, to begin with, just his songs that paint him in a picture rad. But you gradually begin to love him as he unfurls showing what goes inside his thick head, as he pinpoints talent in a destined bar. Falling in love with Ally the Lady who didn’t have to go gaga over him since he made it effortless – How, you ask? Well, he listened to what she has to say. Taking care of her, letting love happen slowly.

I think you might be a songwriter. And don’t worry, I won’t tell anybody. But I am not very good at keeping secrets.

Ally’s dreams were painted up quick as this lad invites her over to one of his gigs. And guess, what he sings? One of “her” songs that she had only once mentioned in passing. Can you imagine how painfully attentive he was? As if he remembered everything she said that night in a parking lot. Had he played that conversation over and over in his head? Not hard to fall in love with this guy then.

Ally – A Dreamer

There is something about watching someone experience a life full of grandeur from the eyes of someone who has never experienced it before. Ally is one such character as she embarks on a private jet that catapults her toward her dream. Even though she secretly knows it that being with Jack meant ushering into a perfect life, deep down she is reluctant and insecure about her looks and questioning – what does he see in me?

She isn’t really prepared for the bomb Jack drops on her by letting her do the encore. It’s a huge opportunity that basically justifies the cliched saying of:

“When an opportunity comes knocking at your door, you gotta grab it.”

So she does. In that split second of her decision, she decides to go for it, that it was a chance that she might not ever have, that Jackson happened to her for a reason. So she dives in eyes closed trusting her guts, making up her mind as we see her nodding to herself that she could do it.

Then some serious music happens. The “shallow” song is probably one of the best I have heard in a long time.


Here’s a peek into it:

Performed by Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper.

Watch Lady Gaga go Wohoooo wohooo wo! How intense is that? It’s lodged in my head and I can’t get it out. I am probably gonna sing it for a really really long time. You know, just what a good song should do.

Talent comes everywhere, but having something to say and a way to say it so that people listen to it, that’s a whole other bag. And unless you get out and you try to do it, you will never know. That’s just the truth. And there’s one reason we are supposed to be here is to say something so people want to hear. So you got to grab it, and you don’t apologize, and you don’t worry about why they are listening, or how long they are going to be listening for, you just tell them what you want to say.

Bobby – The Elder Brother

There is a side plot that runs in the form of Bobby in A Star Is Born movie. Bobby is played by Sam Elliott who is Jack’s older brother, and here the word “old” is literal. Jack has a lot of respect for his dead father, overlooking what he had turned him into. Drinking/drugs was a habit he took from him when he was just 12. He was a bad father but to Jack, he still remained venerated. Bobby’s thoughts about their father being bad, fumes Jack invariably as the youngling ends up having no chill.

Maybe its time to let the old ways die.

One fine day as Jack tries to visit their father’s grave with Ally, he realizes that the land has been sold off by Bobby. Feeling the pain of missing all the things he could have remembered him by, he punches Bobby who then goes on to quit being his manager. In his defense, Bobby tells him that he had told him before doing so, but Jack was too drunk to pay heed.

With that apparent tension, Bobby gets sidelined in the story of A Star Is Born movie as the focus goes on to Ally and Jack once again. With Bobby out of the equation and Jack seething in pain when Ally isn’t around or when things don’t work out, Jack realizes he doesn’t have anyone to take care of him. Bobby was his sole family whom he had punched in the face and pushed away.

The Apology

It is the realization of being wrong which is the most important thing in life. Accepting your fault, most important of all, saying it out loud in front of the concerned, hoping to be forgiven. Admitting things that, you know, would allay tensions. How do you live with your guilt if you knowingly don’t accept? It takes a lot of balls. In A Star Is Born movie, Jack grows them once he visits the rehab and decides to bring his life back on track.

still from A Star Is Born Movie

You see him in tears readily then, which feels pious as he breaks barriers that held him from speaking out in admittance of all things he had done wrong. With hopes to make amends with his brother we see him apologizing to Bobby in what feels like a ground shaking moment.

It is one of the most powerful subplots that the movie cashes in on. Something that shatters you beyond the limit. It binds you in a soul-stirring conversation between brothers one of whom is trying his level best to get vindicated saying things that he, otherwise, wouldn’t have ever said. The reaction to that has also been captured painstakingly well through tears Bobby is trying to hide as he puts his car in reverse. It tears you up as you feel the pang slowly making its way into your gut.

That’s just really hard. We want things to automatically take a course when we grow up. We don’t want to spell out things that embarrass us or show us that we are less. In doing so, we don’t say a lot of things and things don’t mollify on its own. Strains remain. What Jack does is beyond compare and he leaves you in awe forcing you to love him even more.

The Debacle

Let’s go back to the main event fiasco. The place where the story was already headed, shows up where Jack, the protagonist of A Star Is Born movie, ends up doing something despicable. In a state of inebriation, he walks with Ally to the stage. It is almost defiant and obnoxious of him and makes you feel as if he was covetous for not having a Grammy himself. To make matters worse, he ends up peeing on the stage too. It is an act that can’t be forgiven, and yet we see Ally forgiving him all along, understanding him the way nobody does.

Relationships nowadays are paper thin. They end within a blink. You are not even ready for it as the gavel falls and nature seals your fate. But Ally knows when a person is truly sorry. She knows the colossal import of Jack’s life in hers, how she was next to nothing earlier and how she was picked up from there and put up on a dreamy podium. Contradicting it, even though it is a life mingled in gratitude, a person could only take so much.

What Jack does is beyond forgiveness, and even so, as it is happening, you realize how keen Ally is to save him from the laughing eyes of people. Even when he is rushed to the washroom as Ally’s father Lorenzo (Andrew Dice Clay) curses Jack, destroying him with his words in his inebriated state, Ally is still there with him, crying, not leaving him alone and taking care of him despite what he had just done to her involuntarily.

Feeling Sorry

It was his doing, everything, right from the beginning. His choices, the whirlpool that took everything down with him. It’s Ally who is suffering for the most part of it. He takes full responsibility for his actions as an aftermath in the rehab where he has full time to reflect on his deeds.

As Jack breaks into tears for the first time explaining how sorry he really was for his actions, how he made Ally look like a fool, how her father was really disappointed in him, she forgives him instantly. Driving the nail further in, she explains it really didn’t matter what the world thought of him, or what her father thought of Jack, what mattered to her was his importance in her life which was beyond compare.

A Star is Born movie Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga

It’s love unconditionally, and you know it.

Rez Gavron

Throwing in an inevitable bad guy image is Rez Gavron (Rafi Gavron) who is not really a bad guy in the movie if you really look at it. He does not come under the radar as one and does not identify as a villain. He is just a guy who is trying to set things right by being real, straightforward and blunt. What other movies call an antagonist for theatrics is simply a regular guy in here who is trying to do what is best for his company.

But the moment he steps into the ring, from the perspective of Jack, you begin sensing trouble. It is evident when Ally is first stopped by him for a record label deal. Jealousy and concern are painted all over his face as he paints a cake on hers. But he approves of it nevertheless. But what the record does to Ally is something only Jack is secretly aware of.

He didn’t want her to drift towards pop for cheap thrills which Rez really wanted her to do. She was extraordinary as a country singer whilst Jack wanted her to stick to it. He didn’t want her getting lost into the lost sea.

Ups and Downs

The concern is evident when he ends up drinking too much every now and then, sometimes failing to attend even her concerts and her special occasions. Once he wakes up at his friend’s Noodles’ (Dave Chappelle‘s) house where he apologizes to Ally for his behavior then ends up marrying her the same day.

Something Noodles said is so deep that it makes you wonder:

You know, it’s like you float out at sea, and then one day you find a port, say, “I am going to stay here a few days.” A few days becomes a few years. And then you forgot where you were going in the first place. And then you realize you don’t really give a shit about where you were going because you like where you are at.

It is like a series of ups and downs then, which is yet another unavoidable thing once you are engaged with another life. The mess-up, the apologizing, the messing up again. You cannot really run from it. It is the way of the world. That’s how things function and the wheel keeps moving. Saying his heart out loud, he messes things up by spelling out what he didn’t want her doing. He even calls her ugly to win the conversation. But just like it is so hard to take away things that mean so much to someone he fails to make a point. Ends up apologizing once again.

The Ending of A Star Is Born

After the big mess up at the Grammys and the aftermath, Rez the inevitable Gavron, walks in his house and flings at Jack what is on everyone’s mouth. That how ridiculous Jack made Ally appear at the Grammys. He wanted him to back off. But you don’t know what Jack has been thinking all this time.

To tell a depressed person you are worthless is like adding fuel to fire. So, he reiterates an anecdote from the past wherein he had tried to hang himself to a ceiling fan, only then, the fan had fallen due to his weight. This time it doesn’t happen so as Jack hangs himself in defeat in his garage to a waiting dog outside who had no clue what was going on.

You are constantly feeling it, how gut-wrenching an experience it is going to be if Ally found out what Jack was up to. Watching him “do the deed” your insides have melted already. Bradley Cooper spares you the crushing feeling of defeat as he chooses not to show his face, or the aftermath of death, or even Ally’s feelings when she might have returned from her concert to see a hanging Jack. No! He spares you the tears because he knows that moment is so shattering that a lot of people wouldn’t be able to bear it.

I felt this urge suddenly to fall on the ground crying but fortunately or unfortunately the direction of A Star Is Born movie walks past the pain and the grief that should have been an immediate follow-up ends up being not shown. It goes directly to a point in time which is some days later.

Aftermath the Deed

Parents are cursed to take the blame of their children. They want the pain to go away. A grieving Ally tries to explain how it never was her father’s fault.

Bobby helps her bounce back by telling her the truth: It was Jack who brought it upon himself. It wasn’t Rez as some might have already been insinuating. It was Jack all along. Him, the situation and his addiction that he often took respite in, in order to mull over.

It almost feels like cheating. As if it was one huge deception that swallowed both their lives. Ally deserved to know what was going on inside the head of Jack and in that final moment of them being together you wondered what could have happened had he told her what was bothering him.

Jack: Hey!
Ally: What?
Jack: I just wanted to take another look at you!

A Star Is Born movie ends at a high note as the camera oscillates to and fro to a singing Ally who sings one of Jack’s own songs he had written in Ally’s notebook in the rehab. His old school song was about never falling in love again. It metamorphoses into something which is simply apt for the moment, as she claims, if she had time in her hand she would have at least said goodbye.

a star is born movie still

It is powerful and just about befitting for the moment onscreen. A Star Is Born movie ends on a great note where Ally seems lost in the past with a montage of their happy images.

Songs in A Star Is Born Movie

Songs they have used in the movie are outright outstanding too. Here’s a list of all the performed songs that are there in A Star Is Born movie:

  • Black Eyes
  • La Vie En Rose
  • Out of Time
  • Somewhere Over the Rainbow
  • Maybe It’s Time
  • Alibi
  • Shallow
  • Music to My Eyes
  • Diggin’ My Grave
  • Always Remember Us This Way
  • Look What I Found
  • Heal Me
  • I Don’t Know What Love Is
  • Is That Alright?
  • Why Did You Do That?
  • SNL
  • Hair Body Face
  • Before I Cry
  • Too Far Gone
  • I’ll Never Love Again

Here’s from where you can buy your own copy of all the songs in A Star Is Born movie:

Yet another freebie for you. Here’s a video of one of the songs called “Look What I Found” performed by Lady Gaga in A Star Is Born movie. Vevo has done a great job with the video btw.

The Final Verdict

There is ample gravitas pulverized in the story of A Star Is Born movie. It is consuming and overwhelming at the same time. You cannot relate to the characters enough. You are constantly wishing things to stay alright for them, forever vouching for a happy ever after at all times. But alas, no matter how many remakes it goes through, the story eventually feels only fulfilled, if it ends on a high note like that.

Luckily A Star Is Born movie has all the elements in it right from epic songs and epic acting to epic drama ingrained. Makes for a perfect watch. Go have a teary blast!

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A Star Is Born













  • Remarkable Direction
  • Brilliant Acting
  • Extraordinary Drama
  • Great Plot
  • Inventive at times


  • Not Encashing the Final Drama
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