At a Theatre Near You: A Star is (Re)Born

“A Star is Born” was only released this month, but the title may sound familiar to some. There have already been three remakes of the original 1937 film. Actor-turned-director, Bradley Cooper brought the latest rendition to life.

Illustration by Annabel Driussi

In the film, Cooper plays rockstar Jackson Maine, who struggles with alcoholism and drug abuse throughout his musical success. Lady Gaga plays Cooper’s love interest, Ally. In the film, Gaga’s character works as a waitress in New York and does not believe she is beautiful enough to be famous. While the two actors might seem like an unlikely pairing due to Gaga’s scant acting experience in comparison to Cooper’s robust portfolio, their on-screen chemistry is addicting to watch unfold.

Jackson and Ally meet in a New York drag bar one evening, where Ally is singing, and their mutual attraction is instant. Although Ally is hesitant to get involved with an obvious alcoholic, she goes to one of Jackson’s shows the next night. From there, the two are inseparable. Jackson encourages Ally to sing in front of thousands of his fans as well as to continue to write songs. 

At this point in the film, the relationship between Jackson and Ally seems perfect on the outside, yet it is clear that Jackson’s addiction could soon tear them apart. Ally sticks with Jackson, encouraging him to seek professional help. Audiences have seen this relationship archetype before depicted through pairings like Johnny Cash and June Carter in “Walk the Line,” where a woman tries to save a tortured musician from himself. What makes the plot of “A Star is Born” different from other plots is that Ally is able to find her own voice and fame. She stands by Jackson but must also do what is best for her, even if that eventually means selling out to the pop music industry. 

Ally’s transition from rising singer-songwriter to full-blown pop star is most noticeable with the change in her hair color. She observes that she doesn’t even look like herself, a fact that a surly Jackson can’t help but continue to point out as her rise to fame skyrockets and his own dwindles. The change in Ally’s appearance and music aptly displays the music industry today, overflowing with popstars singing over-autotuned, vapid lyrics. While Ally does become an award-winning popstar, it is important to recognize that her character is still distinguishable from Lady Gaga’s own persona. The structure and story of Ally’s character is completely her own, and Lady Gaga’s fame outside of the film was not distracting.

The fourth iteration of “A Star is Born” is truly its own piece of art. Cooper breathes fresh air into the story with his own unforgettable performance complemented by Lady Gaga’s, making his directorial debut a success.

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