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Lady Gaga dazzles in 'A Star is Born'

Wening Gitomartoyo
Wening Gitomartoyo

The Jakarta Post

Jakarta  /  Tue, October 16, 2018  /  10:04 am

The first few scenes of A Star Is Born move swift. Country rocker Jackson Maine (Bradley Cooper) plays a stadium concert with the help of booze and pills. After the gig, we see him almost stumbling as he gets into a car, hiding his face from clamoring fans. Inside, he downs a bottle of gin. We see both the size of his stardom and his pain.

Desperate for another bottle, he stops by a bar. A patron recognizes him and says, almost embarrassed, that this is not like the usual bars. Jackson doesn’t seem to mind the drag queen shows, but then an act captures his eyes and heart.

Ally (Lady Gaga) is a server in a catering company and has given up hope of having a career in music as countless executives have said that her nose is too big. That night, she belts out “La Vie en Rose” in a thunderous performance, and when she locks eyes with Jackson, the story unfolds.

Afterward, they spend the night together in a parking lot, baring their hearts out in touching scenes intertwined with a powerful performance of Ally. But as Ally quickly becomes discovered by the world thanks to Jackson, his fate in music seems to be fading out.

A Star Is Born is the directorial debut for Cooper, who co-wrote the script with Eric Roth and Will Fetters. It is the fourth remake of the original 1937 film and the latest one since the 1976 version starring Barbra Streisand and Kris Kristofferson.

Read also: Lady Gaga says 'Star is Born' character not at all like her

It is a melodrama, but Cooper gives enough sincerity and grand music scenes that it is still enjoyable. The downside is that it deals with a lot of clichés. Addiction is a serious matter with disheartening effects, but it is such a textbook tale of rock stars. The handling of Ally, with her raw talents, as one who rises to pop stardom feels typical and stretched. Gradually, her appearance and her music are made to fit into a supposedly mainstream pop scene mold.

Ally's later music is some form of vapid electronic pop, which feels especially distorted, as it seems to draw from a distant past of mainstream music.

Despite this, the music of Jackson and Ally, thankfully, is powerful. Co-written by Cooper and Gaga along with musicians Lukas Nelson, Jason Isbell and Mark Ronson, they act as Jackson and Ally’s diaries, providing stories in catchy tunes and sweet hooks. The acting performances of Dave Chappelle (a retired musician), Sam Elliott (Jackson's brother) and Andrew Dice Clay (Ally's father) are also wonderful and necessary.  

While it lasted, the film felt earnest and touching. But nothing came trailing afterward. No sudden emotions took me back to either lead character, no scenes stuck with me. I was, however, reminded of Gaga’s greatness; that she truly can act, that her voice is such a force of power and that she is the pure embodiment of a star.

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