Review: ‘A Star is Born’ is music for the soul

Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga exemplified perfect on-screen chemistry in their take on the old storyline. Photo courtesy of IMDb

Molly Atchison | Editor-in-Chief

Sometimes, recreating a film can bring new life to the plot and help a timeless story last for generations. Such is the case with Bradley Cooper’s take on “A Star is Born,” the story’s fourth cinematic portrayal. The plot first played on the big screen in 1937 and starred Janet Gaynor and Fredric March. It was subsequently recreated in 1954 with Judy Garland and James Mason and once again in 1976 with Barbra Streisand and Kris Kristofferson.

This time around, actor and the film’s director Bradley Cooper and singer Lady Gaga reprised the roles, and the duo breathed new life into this sordid tale of love and loss. At first glance, Cooper and Gaga seem like an odd pairing — Cooper’s work has mainly cast him as a handsome, likable degenerate while Gaga’s eccentric stage persona has carried over into her TV and film career. For both actors, this film marked a turning point in their artistic careers.

Throughout the movie, the pair made their characters seem like an extension of themselves, and their chemistry made their characters fly off the screen. Relatable and brutally honest, the script was designed to strike a chord with everyone encountering the film. Cooper and Gaga perfectly displayed a postmodern interpretation of this film, with feminist undertones and more focus on mental health than any of the earlier films.

“A Star is Born” is a perfect example of a remake designed to fit the 21st century in the best way possible. It is neither understated nor overstated. Instead it relies on the moments in between romance to paint the picture of the perfect couple. In this film, the most intimate, meaningful moments don’t lie in the traditional tropes of romance movies, but instead in the 2 a.m. grocery store run and mundane practices in the recording studio. It shows perfectly the dynamic of two musical souls — both struggling to grasp their own interpretation of fame and fortune through deep meditation.

Cooper and Gaga deliver reflective one liners and small caresses, allowing the true focal points of the story — the music and the love — to shine through. The music, which was originally worked into the film during the 1954 version, was written into this version perfectly. Much like blockbusters such as “La La Land” and “The Greatest Showman,” “A Star is Born” lets the music guide the story, almost as a narration of its own. As opposed to the 1976 film, the rock did not seem out of place, but instead added just one more layer to the energy of the 2018 film, and the type of arrangements written for this soundtrack blend heavy guitar sound with soulful, moving vocals in a way that seems incredibly authentic, even though Cooper seemed like a surprising choice for the “aging rocker” role. Vocally, the pair blended incredibly well, with Gaga leaning on her deep, throaty voice and Cooper showing off a raspy baritone voice nobody knew he had. Their duets, such as “Shallows” made the audience’s hearts soar.

The film displayed incredible range in actors who willingly stepped outside their comfort zone, and their risky creative choices paid off tenfold. Expect big things from this film, because its so much more than just big stars playing big stars. You’ll have your heart broken and mended, and you’ll learn things about yourself you never realized. Grab your tissues and drive to the nearest movie theater immediately to see “A Star is Born” reimagined.