A Star Is Born (2018) – Recap/ Review (with Spoilers)

Title Card for A Star is Born (2018)
88.89% (3)

A Star Is Born starts strong and burns bright but, by the end, you’ll be burnt out as it sludges its way to the finish.


Director(s)Bradley Cooper
Written ByEric Roth, Will Fetters, Bradley Cooper
Date Released10/2/2018
Genre(s)Musical, Drama, Romance
Good If You LikeWhirlwind Romance Films.

You Have Eclectic Music Taste.

Are A Lady Gaga Fan.

Are Cool With Oscar Bait Type Films.

Noted Cast
JackBradley Cooper
AllyLady Gaga
RezRafi Gavron
BobbySam Elliott
NoodlesDave Chappelle
RamonAnthony Ramos
LorenzoAndrew Dice Clay
Drag Bar EmceeD.J. ‘Shangela’ Pierce

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Summary

At this point in Jack’s career, between his drinking, drugging, and hearing loss, he is coming towards the end of his rope. He can still put on one hell of a show but with him refusing to use any kind of device to enhance or protect his hearing, he’s on borrowed time. Luckily though, one night, after finding himself without anything to drink, he finds himself stumbling into a gay bar and gets to witness Ally. To say he is enamored by her talent would be an understatement. It’s like, after spending decades on the road, meeting people, even going overseas, she is the first woman he ever saw something in.

Leading to quite a romance. One which benefits Ally greatly as Jack may hold a similar demon as her father has, drinking that is, but unlike her dad, he believes in her. Even puts her on stage, as seen in the video for “Shallow,” and so begins her career. Well, at least her career singing with Jack during his concerts. Her solo career doesn’t begin until meeting a man named Rez. Someone who represents the people who rejected Ally before she met Jackson yet now, with their attention, she seizes the opportunity – with Jack’s support, initially.

However, as Ally’s career rises, Jack’s falls and he sort of just becomes Ally’s husband. Which is fine, but then Rez starts exerting his influence and it changes Ally. Her music isn’t the same, her look isn’t, and Jack is starting to fight with her. Which messes him up for he got better because he thought he found someone who got him. Who protected him as much as his brother Bobby has tried to, but without the baggage.

Leaving us to wonder, as Rez asserts his influence and Jack’s drinking leads to more and more fights, what may come of these two?

Highlights

The First Half, or Quarter, of the Film

Ally approaching a mic to sing "Shallow"

The film starts off going hard. Jack, who seemed like a country music star, based on the trailer, is singing a rock star which will have your head bobbing. Then we get to the drag bar and there is Shangela cracking jokes with other ladies and the tone is set that this is going to be a fun movie. One which you know is going to get dark, since Jack has a serious alcohol problem, but you figure it is going to find a way to address the issue, make it emotional, and just translate the energy.

This especially seems like it is going to happen for Gaga does her first number and then there is a date. One in which Gaga, when Jack is getting bothered by some dude, not at the gay club but a regular old bar, decides to clock a man. Thus taking it where, between Jack’s performance, Gaga fighting a man, and then us learning her dad had alcohol problems like Jack and never believed in her, so sets the stage for what at least is a good 45 minutes to an hour.

In that time, we see Jack woo Ally in ways which will make you put a hand on your heart. Maybe want to steal some of Jack’s moves. Also, we get to see “Shallow” and while Jack reveals how he is a pain in the ass, you see how, despite Ally knowing how men like him are, she is there for the long haul.

Criticism

Sometimes You’ll Wish Jack Came With Subtitles

Jack having a hearing test done.

Understanding Jack will be hard sometimes. Not just because he is drunk and thus slurring his speech, it’s also the accent. It’s grainy, a bit husky, and makes it where if you aren’t used to his drawl, because of where you’re from, it will sound like Cooper is mumbling throughout the film.

On The Fence

It Starts Off On A High And Slowly Loses It’s Energy and Oomph From There

I think the major issue that may come about for viewers is this movie hooks you early with having everything front-loaded. We get the best musical numbers at the beginning, the romance, and while the more dramatic performances come from Cooper and Gaga towards the end, what makes you think this is the best performance of both of their careers comes from the beginning. However, the problem with starting things on such a high is that you are expected to continue throughout.

In A Star Is Born, that doesn’t happen. As Ally sells out, Jack doesn’t really sing anymore and it is just Gaga singing terrible pop songs. I’m talking about the kind she wouldn’t dare put out and, likely in private, or in a shady way, would put down and say they represent the fall of pop music.

Following that, the lovey-dovey stuff between Jack and Ally is replaced by Jack’s alcoholism and drugging. Which, with how Ally is written and performed, it seems she puts up with it, enables it in a way, since she only holds him accountable once when he disappears. Outside of that, there isn’t a call for him to get better until he embarrasses her in a public forum. And while you may think Jack hitting rock bottom would be tragic and tear-inducing, it really isn’t. You recognize it is sad, but being that this becomes Ally’s story featuring Jack, as much as he may note his parents’ deaths, his hearing loss, and more, it doesn’t make you weep when it becomes clear he can’t handle his liquor. It’s just unfortunate.

Especially since, outside of Jack commenting on how he hates Ally’s new music and look, which you can agree with him on, he isn’t your stereotypical drunk. He is a rather quiet drunk. Making it so, as we come upon the last 30 minutes, and the music has become barely worth speaking about, Jack is better. He went to rehab, is reconciling with people, but there is nothing about mounting a comeback. All we get is the film seeing the red light, someone prepping a hook to end the movie, but then it being clear they are going into OT, ready to pay that fine. All so the film can have a dramatic ending which can close with Gaga delivering an “I Will Always Love You” esque song and her fans going wild.

It Doesn’t Fully Address The Family and Friends of Ally, Or Friends of Jack

Dave Chappelle as Noodles in A Star Is Born.

For those of you coming to see this because you wanna see Dave Chappelle, Anthony Ramos, Andrew Dice Clay, or even Shangela, while they are in the movie, none of their parts are big. Chappelle is dropped in the middle, noted as a childhood friend of Jack, yet how they met and why we didn’t know he existed till the middle of the film isn’t explained. This dude is the first person we meet who Jack has a relationship with, but isn’t on his payroll, yet he never called him or nothing? He just drunkenly passes out across the street from his house and they catch up like this is routine?

Then with Ramos, he just plays the best friend who may get a few lines in, all of which is supporting Ally, but as for who his character Ramon is? Your guess is as good as mine. And it goes on and on. Shangela, while they have a comical and memorable part, is your usual comic relief gay character with one-liners and sass. Which there is nothing wrong with, but as for who the character is once the fun is over? Who knows.

But perhaps the biggest disappointment is Andrew Dice Clay. Not because of his acting, but with Ally making it clear that her dad was an alcoholic, you’d think they would have played that up more. Make it where you can see Ally found a man, with similar demons to her father, and that is why she was able to roll her eyes as Jack consistently got drunk. That is why she got so upset when he just disappeared, and she had no idea where he was. But, unfortunately, all we get out of Clay’s Lorenzo is how he didn’t make it and thus he didn’t have much faith in his kid making it.

Overall: Mixed (Divisive) | Purchase Or Rent On (Fandango/ Amazon)

Ally as Ramon prays she'll go on stage with Jack.

When the movie started, I was so convinced this was going to be another positive labeled movie, that the hype was real and this film was going to clean up at awards season. However, after a certain point, once the energy tapered off, this just started to feel like Oscar bait. All that hooked you in the beginning seemingly left without saying goodbye and what you are left with doesn’t keep that same energy. It doesn’t have it where Jack’s tumble towards rock bottom, Ally’s new music, and her rise to stardom holds that same call for attention as the first half. If anything, you’re left grumbling about the second half the same way Jack grumbles about Ally’s music.

Hence the mixed label. A Star is Born is the kind of film which feels like a bait and switch. It starts off aimed towards a general audience by being a high energy musical with a lot of personalities and promise. However, as we reach the second half, you start to realize that Jack’s alcoholism is going to be handled similar to how Ally treats it. It’s going to be often waved off, treated like an inconvenience, or just a simple character flaw. That is, rather than the full weight of him being an alcoholic, like his dad, or Ally having to relive her father’s past alcohol abuse, being given.

Making it where, as you sit through the second half of a 2 hour and 17-minute film, as much as you can recognize things are getting bad for Jack, and Ally is slightly losing herself to Rez’s influence, things also feel downplayed a bit. Jack’s rock bottom feels like it is given a soft landing. Ally’s issues with Rez, they don’t seem as troublesome as you feel they should be for a girl who was rejected by men like him, music wise, yet now she has their attention.

Instead, we get a film which tries to become more serious by stripping away what initially hooked you and then, in an attempt to deliver a solid ending, hastens how bad things are for Jack. Just so, when you leave the theater, you can be overwhelmed with emotion and spread like wildfire how good this was. Rather than speak on, despite solid performances and wonderful music in the first half, the movie not living up to the potential it often seemed to have.


 


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Ending Spoilers on 2nd Page

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About Amari Sali 3365 Articles
New Jersey native Amari Sali takes the approach of more so being a media advisor than a critic to sort of fill in the gap left between casual fans of media and those who review productions for a living. Thus being open about bias while still giving enough insight, often with spoilers, to present whether something is worth seeing, buying, renting, streaming, or checking out at all.

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