“A Star is Born” is so good that it makes you forget that Lady Gaga is Lady Gaga– and that’s the point.
The film stars Bradley Cooper as country superstar Jackson Maine and Lady Gaga as Ally, an unknown singer-songwriter. After falling in love with Ally the moment he meets her and sees her perform, Maine uses his stardom to empower Ally to use her voice because she not only has the talent, but has something to say. Ultimately, her celebrity surpasses his to tragic ends.
Both Cooper and Gaga transformed themselves to perform their roles. In a New York Times profile, Cooper says he had to drop his voice an octave and learn to play the guitar and the piano “not just enough to be convincing onstage– enough to be a professional musician,” the article says, in order to portray his vision of Jackson Maine.
Similarly, Lady Gaga challenged her whole image to be Ally. At the start of the film, she wears little to no makeup, has brown hair slightly lighter than her natural dark brown, and is clad in nothing but black and white.
Gaga and Cooper craft characters so far from what the world knows Gaga as. She portrays it so honestly that she makes you forget that the person who plays Ally is the same person who walks red carpets in designer meat suits and infamous bleach blonde hair.
All of this changes when Ally starts performing. While she’s still singing her own songs with Maine on stage, she adds more color to her indie outfits. It isn’t until she gets an agent that she starts making drastic changes to her image, her sound and her whole personality.
Through Ally’s transformation and how it reflects so much of Gaga’s own persona, Cooper challenges aspects of modern society– asking viewers to question the idea of the celebrity and how this celebrity comes into conflict with what’s true.
Still, Cooper’s “A Star is Born” is the third remake of the 1937 original film starring Janet Gaynor and Fredric March and also marks Cooper’s directorial debut. But why, when he could have created anything he wanted, would Cooper choose a film that dates back eighty years to make his mark?
I think it comes back to the ideas of celebrity, talent and having something to say. From the ways that he pushed his body, his abilities and his craft, you can’t ignore that Cooper has invested so much of himself not just to tell a good story, but to speak some kind of truth through his art.
“What he says in the bar is, you know, ‘Talent’s everywhere, you know, everybody’s talented at one thing or another, but having something to say and a way to say it, that’s a whole other bag.’ I believe that, you know what I mean?’” Cooper said, according to the article.
To tell a truth about love, loss, celebrity, art or himself, I’m not sure; but the film is honest, thoughtful and impactful and maybe, more than anything, Cooper wanted to connect to people through his art.
“That’s the whole point of creating art, trying to somehow deal with the desperate reality of being alive, you know?” Cooper said in the article. “The wound was just the wound of being a human being.”
If this conversation about truth and connection doesn’t interest you, the film’s innovative cinematography, compelling plot and beautiful music can still be enjoyed.
Alexis Taylor is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.