A Star Is Born

Tom’s Rating: 9/10 – Lucy’s Rating: 8/10 (-1 for singing in the carpark).

The natural comparison for A Star Is Born has to be the Queen biopic Lucy and I saw a fortnight ago. But while both are musical-inspired movies, they share very little else in common. Whereas Bohemian Rhapsody was a relatively light and witty drama, this film is a heavy-hitter with a simple but captivating story that leaves you reeling.

Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper were excellent in their roles as Ally and Jackson, respectively. The budding romance is so endearing, and I loved how Cooper portrayed both his intense jealousy and also real care for the character Ally’s musical profile. It really is painful to watch as she embraces the colours, choreography and beat of modern music. This clash between the honesty of Maine’s country-inspired rock and the mass-production pop that Ally ultimately follows resonated with me strongly. I am sure that others will come down on the opposite side to me, and perhaps that makes this film even better.

The stage performances themselves were also incredibly well shot. Using real crowds (only possible because of Lady Gaga’s huge amount of talent), A Star is Born is able to do something new with what is, otherwise, quite a simple story. These scenes were hugely better than the CGI crowds used in Bohemian Rhapsody, which really cheapened the feel of that film.

What prevents me giving the full 10/10 to this film was the reliance on yet another “evil music manager”. Yes, we get it, the music industry is cutthroat and full of executives that distort musicians' true voice. But it is such a boring trope, that I wish Cooper had found a different sort of antagonist. When Ally’s manager speaks to Jackson at the singers' home, it was all too predictable. I would have enjoyed this angle much more had these corporate interests remained hidden in the film, acting beyond the view of the audience.

Lucy also did not like the carpark scene where Ally, having punched a Jackson Maine fan, opens up to Cooper’s character by singing a “song she has been working on.” And it was a little cringe-y. I am willing to forgive them for this scene - I can imagine it happening in real life. But Lucy is right, it did feel a little “Glee”.

The film’s narrative is so powerful, however, that it is able to brush any minor distractions under the carpet. Both Lady Gaga and Cooper play their roles so well that you are swept up in the turbulent romance of two superstars at different ends of their fame. I think this may well be the best film I see this year.

Thomas Robinson
Thomas Robinson
Assistant Professor in Quantitative Comparative Politics

I am a political scientist studying representation, experimental methods and computational social science.