“I just wanted to take another look at you”.
So he did. And in his eyes she is reborn.
The age-old tale of stardom and discovery has been told innumerable times before. And indeed, A Star is Born has been remade on three separate occasions since its original 1937 film, as a musical in 1954 and 1976 and a 2013 Bollywood romance. It is a brave call for Bradley Cooper to star in his directorial feature film debut and think he can do one better.
There is always something about meeting for the first time that transports us to the exact same moment in our own lives. Cooper’s portrayal of this is particularly resonant. Jackson Maine (Cooper), a seasoned country singer, prowls the night scene after a smash hit performance. Chancing upon a drag club, he enters the familiar world of booze and idolisation. There he meets a budding singer-songwriter Ally (Lady Gaga), rendering an electrifying performance of Edith Piaf’s La Vie en Rose. They make eye contact; she recognising in him the stardom that she never dares dream, and he discovering the emotional depth that has so far eluded him due to that very stardom. In that one moment as a fresh-faced Ally emerges to Jackson’s touching rendition of his own song, a tremendous amount has been said, and their lives are forever intertwined.
For those of us fortunate enough, we will meet seemingly confident men who tell us to “just trust” and dive into our deepest vulnerabilities. For Ally and Jackson, the result is nothing short of magical. Their joint debut – “Shallow” – only sought to solidify their natural affinity as artists and lovers.
Of course, this is where the initial mutual admiration takes its dramatic turn. Our natural human insecurities come to the fore, as one partner burgeons and shines just as another withers and fades. Jackson’s struggles with alcoholism, substance abuse and bouts of depression and self-debasement reflect a well-trodden path of celebrity self-destruction. Ally’s unwavering devotion (to what she considers her teacher and companion in life) is mesmerising, and her solo performances “Always Remember Us This Way” and “I’ll Never Love Again” spoke volumes of nostalgia and pain.
The debate about whether Cooper’s film is better than its previous iterations is superfluous; just as a debate about the merits of evolution of time and space. Cooper and Lady Gaga’s uncannily suited vocals and faultless chemistry onscreen combine to weave a contemporary take on the story of discovery, growth, and ultimately, sacrifice.
Rewatchability Index: 4/5.