The first word that came to mind while watching the film “A Star Is Born” was organic. From the minute Jackson (Bradley Cooper) walked in to the drag queen bar, I knew that this would be a very unique and enjoyable film. Lady Gaga, who played Ally, really outdid herself in stepping aside from her glamour aesthetic and representing a natural, simple girl leading an average life. What really made this film stand out was that neither an underdog nor a hero was presented. With most romantic movies or movies about fame, the audience sees a typical storyline of the star being a hero and guiding their underdog partner up the ladder of fame, to then have the underdog become bigger than the hero and ultimately become the villain. But that was not the case in “A Star Is Born.”
To start off, the actors who played the main drag queens Shangela Laquifa Wadley (D.J. Pierce) and Emerald (Willam Belli) did a phenomenal job at representing the drag world with elegance and humor. I felt as though these queens could have come out of RuPaul’s Drag Race with how on point they were at having just the right amount of sass and laughs for the stage. One of my favorite lines in the movie was when Ally said “They never let girls on stage so it is an honor to be one of the gay girls.” The reality is that being invited as a performer at a drag show is truly a great privilege in the gay community.
The minor characters really did assist in making the film relatable. We get introduced to Ally’s best friend Ramon (Anthony Ramos) and we see him through various parts of the movie as being a supporter for Ally in amazing opportunities and upsetting situations. His character really makes the audience think of their closest friends and family.
The trailer for this movie gave the impression that the main plot of the story would be centered around Jackson Maine or Jackson Maine and Ally but, the movie mainly focuses on Ally and her rise to success with Jackson at her side. I almost questioned if the movie was fictional or based on Gaga’s life due to how centered the film was around her singing and performance. The audience falls in love with Ally and can even see themselves in her quirky, natural persona.
I, myself, was surprised at how in tune I was with her character and even Lady Gaga herself. During Jackson and Ally’s first date, Ally complains about her nose and the size of it. She hints at the curvature of it by doing the motion of outlining her profile which becomes a common gesture throughout the movie. My nose has the exact same curvature as Lady Gaga’s. This has always been a trait I had been ashamed of since I was a kid but have learned to embrace in college. Seeing Ally represent the same unique facial trait as myself, and possibly others, gave me a sense of extreme beauty and pride in what most would see as an imperfection. This is a small example of why representation not only in physical embodiment, but also in race and sexuality in films, really matters. Not only did I feel incredibly attached to Ally after this moment, but I also felt a sense of reflection with her and the audience as to how she responded to some of the lines that Jackson would give. In serious moments where typically both characters would respond in clever or well-formed lines, Ally would respond with a laugh or with a pause and then a thoughtless answer. For example, in the scene where Jackson takes off her taped-eyebrows and he mentions her beauty, she pauses and then says something about her eyebrows which made the audience erupt in laughter. She gives humor and quirkiness to what should be serious moments, which hasn’t really been done in romantic dramas.
Bradley Cooper’s character is an individual who has had the lowest of lows and the highest of highs. His story involves alcoholism and massive self-doubt in what is important in his life and the lives of those who he loves. Jackson, throughout the film, constantly felt alone no matter how many people knew him. Nothing was there to fill that void and the only temporary fill-in was Ally. I purposely saved Bradley’s character for the end of the discussion because he is essentially slowly placed in the spot of a minor character. The descent of his character kicked off once Rez (Rafi Gavron) approached Ally after Jackson and Ally’s big show. The unique part about this situation is that he isn’t even upset about his descent in fame because of the true love he holds for Ally. He makes Ally his entire source of happiness the minute he lays eyes on her that nothing else in the world seems to matter. It’s as though the world was her script and he just played a minor character in it which he became perfectly fine with doing as long as she was happy. In most movies, you see a character’s descent as bitter which makes the audience have ill feelings towards the person who caused it. In this movie, the audience gets to feel sympathy for both ends of the spectrum. Feeling sympathy for Ally and how Jackson’s alcoholism has made it difficult for her career, but also feeling sympathy for Jackson’s tragic past, present and possibly future. We get a quick glimpse of his past through his older brother Bobby (Sam Elliott) who has always played the role of Jackson’s “father” and biggest supporter..
Jackson and Ally’s love is one like none other and one which we don’t see in many romantic dramas. They lift each other up and keep lifting each other up until the very end. When they have fights or problems throughout, they resolve it with humor, actions of love, or serious discussion. This is exactly how most couples who are deeply in love resolve their problems. There is something so pure and organic that we see within this love story. Jackson loves Ally for how strong and independent she is aside from her looks as well as for how she views him as a human being with emotions instead of an object like the rest of the world sees him. Ally loves Jackson for the way he treats her with respect and passion as well as the beautiful talent he has. Ally doesn’t instantly fall in love with Jackson, which is what makes this love story even more realistic. Even though she agrees to get a drink with him after his performance and stays out all night with him, she still is a bit reserved. The love she has for him grows in intensity that reaches its highest potential towards the middle of the first half of the film. We also see Ally’s love for Jackson in small ways through her actions.
After watching the film with my father, he made a very interesting comment which was “life can really turn around in a second. One day you’re on top and the next you’re watching someone else take the stage. You truly never know what’s to come.” That is what the audience took from the film. How any one of the situations shown such as alcoholism, depression, the rise and fall of a career, poverty and wealth can occur at any time in real life. How people have a greater influence than they think which can lead to either positive or negative outcomes. The best takeaway from this film is how the best things in life come when one least expects it, but that can also be said for the worst things in life.