I know that the title of this review is a bold one. And trust me, I don’t take it lightly. Naming this film one of the best of the decade is not an over-exaggeration. It is not only something I have thought out, it is something I felt from the moment the end credits rolled. As everyone in the packed theater let out a heavy breath, as I did, the weight, the true beauty of the film hit me in all its glory. Because there can be no question about it. This film is beautiful. The only question in my mind is how many more times am I going to see it?
For those of you who don’t know, A Star is Born is about a young singer/songwriter, Ally, whose music career consists of singing in a Drag bar weekly, and getting told by record labels that she isn’t pretty enough to make it in the business. But when she meets Jackson Maine, a renowned musician who’s looking for a way out of his downward spiral, things change for the both of them. The pair build a relationship both musically and personally, but while Ally’s career begins to skyrocket, Jack’s starts to falter as he faces alcoholism and addiction.
Let’s begin with our all-star, indescribably talented cast. Lady Gaga was the absolute perfect choice for our leading lady. It’s hard to describe what exactly it is that she brings to the role, so let me just say, simply, that she is undeniably real. She plays Ally with this perfect, relatable balance. She’s full of hope and promise, yet she’s surrounded by things that make her feel stuck. She’s kind and empathetic, but isn’t afraid to punch someone in the face if the time calls for it. She’s a real woman, and it does credit to not only her, but to writers Eric Roth and Bradley Cooper. There is nothing one dimensional about her character, and that’s what we like to see.
Then, we have Bradley Cooper, who not only starred in the film, but co-wrote and directed it. Now, it’s worth noting that this is his directorial debut, and it is nothing short of beautiful. Cooper spent hundreds of hours learning how to play the guitar and perfect his voice. So, for those of you wondering, yes. That is, in fact, Bradley Cooper playing the guitar. It’s his voice we hear. And it was actually Gaga who encouraged him to use his own voice in the film. We can’t thank her enough for that one.
Cooper and Gaga bring so much honesty and pain to their roles. Gaga shows the frustration and struggle when someone you love is facing addiction. The strength it takes to understand, to help them get better when they aren’t capable of doing it on their own. And Cooper portrays both addiction and alcoholism in an honest, raw way, the likes of which I haven’t seen it quite some time. These actors pour everything they have into their performances, which is why there wasn’t a dry eye in the theater by the time the credits rolled.
The chemistry between the two will both warm and break your heart, as much of this film will. The strength of their connection and energy is palpable from the first moment they share the screen. And musically speaking, there’s no question that this was a match made in Heaven. Gaga’s powerful and soulful voice blends with Cooper’s smokey tones in a way that is nothing short of moving. If you don’t believe me, just give this a listen.
It’s been a long time since a film has made me cry as much as this one did. It captures addiction, alcoholism, and mental illness in such a real, unashamed way. Cooper directs this film with an intense intimacy that is impossible not to fall in love with. These characters are so strongly written and portrayed that not only do you root for them, you find they are apart of you. Though the film is just over two hours long, you’ll feel as if you’ve known Ally and Jack for years. An incredible feat, to be sure, and a true testament to the both the direction and the performances of these fantastic actors.
There’s so much I want to say about this film, and truly, I could go on for hours. But in doing so, I would spoil the most shocking and the most beautiful moments. So, let me simply say this.
A Star Is Born, above anything else, is a film filled with humanity. It is beauty and intimacy. Heartbreak and hardship. It is a film about our deepest and most overwhelming sorrows, and in contrast, the most eye-opening, fulfilling love. I have never been quite so affected, so deeply moved on so many levels as I have been by A Star Is Born. It is why I’m naming it the best film of the year, and it is why I encourage each and every one of you to see it. I promise you, as many tears as you shed, you will not regret it.
A Star Is Born Is In Theaters Now.