Reel Matt

This blog started as my movie marathon — watching a movie a day for a whole year — and has continued as a place for me to write reviews about movies, TV, and various other items.

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A Star Is Born

Film #622

THE PLOT

A musician helps a young singer find fame, even as age and alcoholism send his own career into a downward spiral.

THE REVIEW

The Oscars are less than a week away as I write this, which begins my frantic attempt to catch up on all of the reviews I have put off. A Star Is Born was one of the first movies I saw with my new AMC A-List subscription, way back on January 13. Many details and specifics may be gone, but that should help me get through the reviews quicker — much more of a gut-feeling, “Why should(n’t) I see this movie”.

With A Star Is Born, there was quite a bit of hype I heard before seeing it. It was once the frontrunner for Best Picture but then had a dismal showing at the Golden Globes and, while garnering eight nominations at the Oscars, it has kind of fallen off the major discussions.

For me, Green Book and Roma (reviews forthcoming) have taken over that number one spot for me, but A Star Is Born still has a lot going for it. The story is quite expansive, but the pacing never makes it feel like it is dragging on. Bradley Cooper does a terrific directing job, and probably should have been nominated. His vision really ups the appeal of this movie, and is kind of what surprised me most.

The story seems a lot more personal than I was expecting, from almost all the characters. It is not just Ally (Lady Gaga) who is extraordinary, and is the titular star that is born, but Jack Maine (Cooper) and Bobby Main (Sam Elliott) also have deep, substantive story lines that really enrich the entire movie. You know Lady Gaga is going to amaze and impress, her voice and talent clearly overshadowing everyone else, but A Star Is Born also spends a lot of time looking at the rest of the ensemble. Jack Maine, the alcoholic musician, and Bobby Maine, his caring brother that has given up a lot to look after Jack. The marriage between Ally and Jack is full of love, but is also very stressful and abusive at times.

A Star Is Born isn’t the happy-go-lucky, here’s an unknown musician getting a chance to make it in the world story. Parts of the movie are that, but Bradley Cooper really dives in, far from the shallows, and digs deep into what makes these characters tick. That really gets to the heart of what I loved so much about this movie: it has the great characters and performances, it has great direction and overall filmmaking qualities, but above all it gets deeper and more mentally draining than a, “Let’s watch Lady Gaga be discovered and sing for two hours” type of concert film.

The discussion surrounding the winning potential of A Star Is Born at the Oscars seems to mimic my own feelings as I saw more of the nominees. No doubt A Star Is Born is a great film, and deserving of a nomination, but the other nominees just seem to be better.

THE RATING

5 out of 5