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Rant and Rave: A Star is Born

There is an ongoing pursuit of originality in recent media, however, sometimes this drive gets blindsided by the inability to properly give certain elements the buildup and attention it deserves. For a film that discusses music, love, individuality, addiction, and mental illness, A Star is Born is not safe from both appreciation and critique–it hit the high notes while faltering in some parts.

A Star is Born explores how music is interwoven in Ally (Lady Gaga) and Jackson Maine’s (Bradley Cooper) relationship. Music brought them together, and kept them apart. Being considered a “revival” rather than a remake of previous films with the same title, A Star is Born’s latest version delivered relatable tunes and a culture-sensitive storyline while being modern.

Of ballads, guitars, and pianos

In his directorial debut, Cooper managed to keep the story’s pacing steady, making it understandable for the viewers. It didn’t lack when it came to the dialogue, nor did it overdo the incorporation of music in its scenes. Lady Gaga’s acting debut, on the other hand, proved her versatility as a performer. Her musical stint reminded fans of her 2016 album, Joanne. Lady Gaga was able to prove the public once again of her talent and passion as an artist.

For many, hearing Gaga sing is nothing new. Yet, her performance as Ally brings something fresh, surprising us all just when we thought we already saw everything. It’s easy to figure out that wherever she goes, music follows. The film was not short in providing its audience the right amount of music, all while setting the bar high for succeeding movies debuting original songs. Beyond the two tunes in the trailer–Shallow and Maybe It’s Time–the movie’s setlist proves to be diverse, offering various genres and exploring different moods in their delivery.

Original songs often face the struggle of being too cliche and forced, but this wasn’t the case in the film. Both Gaga’s and Cooper’s performances made the audience feel like they knew the songs beforehand. Imagine attending a concert and witnessing the opening act; you don’t really know the actual songs being played, but they cruise you through the experience and hook you in.

Accented with reality

An underlying theme waiting to be unearthed is what we don’t see behind the scenes, namely, the manufacturing of the artist. As budding artists go through the process of establishing themselves, the process they undertake before “making it” is often hidden from fans. The film did not let up the chance to show the audience how much the artist must “change” to become the sensation we are familiar with. But beyond that, it drives in the idea of humanity. Artists are people with struggles of their own even after their careers take off. The movie was honest in acknowledging this, and brutal enough to leave the viewers distraught and hurt after sympathizing with the leads.

Then again, there might be no other way to discuss the conflict without disclosing what actually happened. It gets disturbing.

Despite having taken off on such a high altitude, the film did manage to falter on some grounds, while also only “scratching the surface” on what could’ve been an open dialogue on addiction, depression, and suicide. Don’t get this wrong, the movie did get to properly acknowledge that addiction and depression do affect the daily decisions and performances of those struggling with them. It even presented options such rehabilitation and therapy sessions to aid in the recovery. The part where it went wrong? It blamed the victim for losing the fight.

Deeper into the edge

While the movie did it’s best to carefully handle the subject of suicide, it suggested a rather misinformed procedure of halting the characters’ grieving process. Instead of consolation, the film suggested instead to remove the guilt from those who feel that they are at fault and blame the dead instead. This was later brushed off and resolved through a melancholic finale ballad, which was meant to say goodbye to the suicide victim–and probably to the guilt, too.

Despite having parts that dragged on and felt unnecessary, the film could still dub itself as one of 2018’s most promising films by far. Original music, versatile performances, and an important social issue makes for a film that warrants a second look.

Rating: 3.0/4.0

Ramon Castañeda

By Ramon Castañeda

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