Countdown to the Oscars: A Star Is Born

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The third time's the charm? This is our review of the Oscar nominee, A Star Is Born, the second remake of the 1937 musical

Countdown to the Oscars: A Star Is Born

Written, directed and starring Bradley Cooper, A Star Is Born began as a project in which he had to convince many to do so. It is the third version of this story, whose first round was in 1937, almost a century ago. The first remake was released in 1976 and starred Kris Kristofferson and Barbra Streisand. This time, Cooper and Lady Gaga play the leading roles. Both are very similar to their predecessors. A Star Is Born have seven Oscar nominations this year, including the most important award: Best Film.

Leer en español: Cuenta regresiva para los Óscar: A Star Is Born


The plot

The premise is simple: two talents are known. They fall in love. At the same time that the career of the successful singer and guitarist Jack Maine is in decline due to his problems with alcohol and drugs, that of the first Ally takes off. His love story follows the career of both and shows how the peak of one is the bottom of the other. This has happened in the already three versions of this movie. This has made me think about the reason for a remake: What is the point of rewriting the same story, first in 1937, then in 1976 and now? Although many times they tell the same story, the remakes are done again to tell it differently, to update it, because maybe there is now something new to say. This is not the case with Bradley Cooper's version of A Star Is Born.

On the one side, both protagonists could not get rid of the previous version of themselves. Bradley Cooper tries with a simulated voice to imitate the rough masculinity of Kris Kristtofferson, that suddenly was fashionable in the seventies but that now in definitive is only a commonplace. And Lady Gaga, on the other hand, tries to get the juice out of a poorly written character with only her resemblance to Barbra Streisand. When in the sixties Funny Girl saw the light, the role of Barbra Streisand, the Jewish girl with talent but without the face that sought the entertainment industry, was an attractive character. Now in a world in which Gaga herself is queen, the problematic of the talented singer but with a big nose does not make much sense. I think that although the subject of physical appearance is unusual in the story of a woman who is trying it in the music industry, A Star Is Born is very short in complicating this obstacle that Ally must face and resolves it too quickly: She looks beautiful to a famous man.

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The same story

One would say that in the time between 1937, year of its first version, until 2018, time equivalent to almost the complete history of cinema, different things have happened in the music and film industry that allowed to update the story. Bradley Cooper does not seem to be aware of it. He told for the third time (or rather for the thousandth time, because we have seen this story several times in other films) the story of an experienced man who "discovers" a woman, as one who says that Europe "discovered" America, and He explains that he has potential and talent and that he can be a star. Of course, they can not both be at the top. It is either one or the other. Thus, while she achieves success, he delves into alcohol and drugs. They are never even.

One would also think that after almost a century of feminism, the focus of this story would be different. While I was watching her, for a moment I thought, naively, that there would be a moment of emancipation and vindication in which Ally, the character of Lady Gaga, would realize that in order to shine with her light she had to become independent and separate from her husband and that there at the top I would remember him with love and affection. It was not so. The naive and simple Ally is unable in the whole film to see and point out the defects of her husband, which, incidentally, also makes it an unbelievable love story, because what merit has to love who has no defects? In two hours of film, Ally does not make a single decision. Not even in the end (spoiler alert!), In which he, in a heroic act to save her from himself, commits suicide. In the end, then, he decides for her. He, who had embarrassed her in front of her fans and had taken away the stage in which she was shining, ends up being the hero since he "liberates her." Ally never frees herself or becomes independent. In the end, she does not owe it to herself but to a deceased husband who will idealize for the rest of her career and who never dared to criticize or question.

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The only update that Bradley Cooper seems to make to his version of the story is when it comes to musical genres. Jack Maine is a rock and blues guitarist. Ally, who is just beginning a musical career, is not very clear about her style. After singing on several occasions with her husband on stage, a representative offers to make her famous. He, then, proposes a change of look and style. Ally becomes a pop star.

And meanwhile, Jack feels he loses it. Then in another paternalistic gesture, Jack thinks he knows the genuine Ally, the real one. And he does not realize that in his musical genre there is no room for a woman. He does not understand that pop is where Ally can be a star, because his world, so masculine and hostile, has closed the door on several occasions. And the film does not notice it either, because instead of defending the space in which Ally shines, she ridicules it.

In the end, Lady Gaga ends up making a caricature of herself, which became famous for making pop. The two do not convince as a couple, perhaps because they idealize each other and never have a real conversation. Thus, A Star Is Born is nothing more than an old retweet with songs by Lady Gaga.


LatinAmerican Post | Juliana Rodríguez Pabón

Translated from "Cuenta regresiva para los Óscar: A Star Is Born"

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