‘A Star Is Born’ brings addiction onto the mainstage

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“Maybe it’s time to let the old ways die.”

These are the lyrics from fictional singer and songwriter Jackson Maine in “A Star Is Born.” While these words are subtext towards the film’s larger theme, they relate well to the fact that this film has been remade four different times. Maybe it’s time to stop remaking this film, because it truly has nothing new to say.

“A Star Is Born,” directed by and starring Bradley Cooper, shows audiences the harsh realities of success in the music industry. Alcoholism and drug addiction are heavy and somber themes in this film and ultimately shape the narrative of country star, Jackson Maine. Jackson meets Ally (portrayed by Lady Gaga), and it’s love at first sight. Eventually, their relationship becomes strained by the celebrity lifestyle, with a lot of open wounds leftover.

 

The performances in this film are the most outstanding part about it. Cooper is hardly recognizable as Jackson Maine, and Lady Gaga has some great acting chops. Along with acting, the musical performances were very well done. It’s hard to tell if Bradley Cooper can really play the guitar, but it sure seems like he can. Both of the lead stars have beautiful voices, with some moments in their musical escapades proving to be very powerful.

 

A notable addition to the world-building of this film was its songwriting. Plenty of the music in the film felt like it was coming from real country and pop artists. Along with the songwriting, seeing the characters interact with other celebrities in Hollywood adds a sense of realism, suspending the audience’s disbelief. Although the world-building is strong for the most part, there are a few aspects of the writing of this film that take viewers out of it entirely.

 

Lady Gaga is one of the most beautiful people in the industry, yet her character is constantly ridiculed for her looks in the film. She thinks she’s ugly, her dad comments on how only good-looking women make it, and Cooper’s character even gives her grief for how she looks in the second act.

 

There are some powerful moments in this film that break the heart of its audience. One of these moments takes place in a rehab center, where the characters have a sobering conversation about Maine’s addiction. The relationship between Ally and Jackson are a large part of this heartbreak, as the viewers see their rough edges. Throughout the film, Jackson is consistently struggling with trying to break his addictions and truly letting his old ways die. With his struggles, he’s constantly holding Ally back as her success begins to overshadow his.  

This film paints a somber picture of what being addicted to something looks like, and how it can affect the relationships with those surrounding the person. The audience sees Cooper’s character fall in and out of the cycle of substance abuse, which is an ugly reality for many in the entertainment industry. In the end, Jackson Maine does what he thinks is best for Ally and himself.

“A Star is Born” brings the struggles of fame and fortune into the spotlight, and does so realistically and relatably. While it’s sometimes just another rags-to-riches story, the film ultimately opens a door to discussions about substance abuse and the realities that come with mental health problems.

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