22nd Sep 2019
Can you believe it’s already been a year since ‘A Star is Born’ graced our screens? In a case of mass movie hysteria not seen for years, we take a look back at what was so special about the remake.
This time last year, there was only one subject on everyone’s lips – and no, it wasn’t Brexit. Bradley Cooper’s effort to upstage the three previous editions of the iconic A Star is Born was about to hit cinemas, and with the director starring alongside Lady Gaga as his leading lady, it seemed a recipe for something too good to be true. But, in a special way that rarely happens with movies these days, it wasn’t – it completely and utterly lived up to the hype.
I can honestly say that never in my life have I witnessed a reaction to a feature film quite like that to A Star is Born – not only in other people, but in myself. I was absolutely obsessed with this movie.
I listened to nothing but the soundtrack for weeks after watching. I welled up thinking about certain scenes while on public transport. I infuriated my family and friends by talking about every nuanced details for hours on end.
It’s like that scene in Mean Girls (another film that bordered on obsession for me – but granted, I was, like, 13 when it came out, so it can be excused) when Cady says “I could hear people getting bored with me, but I just couldn’t stop. It was like word vomit”. I word vomited about A Star is Born for far longer than I should have and honestly, I would do it again.
“Critics, cinema goers and sceptics all fell at the feet of Cooper and Gaga – it is absolutely not an exaggeration to say there was a mass hysteria around this movie.”
Luckily, I was not alone in my irritatingly incessant love for the remake. The list is endless for awards (eight Oscar noms, two Grammys, a Critic’s Choice Best Actress for Lady Gaga, etc., etc.) but the madness was really in the public’s reaction.
Critics, cinema goers and sceptics all fell at the feet of Cooper and Gaga – it is absolutely not an exaggeration to say there was a mass hysteria around this movie.
But why? What was it about A Star is Born, a story we’d already seen on screen three times over the last 80 years, that made us lose our collective minds?
The love story
A good old fashioned love story never goes down badly, but this particular one was something special. Much was made of Cooper and Gaga’s sensational chemistry (and whether it was translating off screen too) but this only added to audience’s investment in the love we saw onscreen.
I remember, before the movie came out and I was impatiently scouring reviews before I could see it myself, reading Joe.ie’s resident movie reviewer Rory Cashin’s take on the film. He, like many others, was full of praise, but mentioned in particular the scene in the bar, where Jack and Ally meet for the first time, as the best onscreen portrayal of love at first sight he’d probably ever seen.
I wondered how such a feeling (that I personally have never given much credence to – surely love is a growth of feelings, not a spontaneous spurt?) could be accurately, much less convincingly portrayed.
I had no need to worry. The fall overboard into complete awe, adoration and instant love is written all over Jack’s face – I’ve never felt as emotionally committed to an onscreen couple as I felt then, and continued to feel for the rest of the movie.
“When Jack eventually meets his end, and Ally sings that song for their relationship, I physically couldn’t leave the chair for about five minutes after the credits rolled, to give my wracking sobs a chance to recede.”
I won’t put a spoiler alert, as the film’s been out for a year, but when Jack eventually meets his end, and Ally sings that song for their relationship, I physically couldn’t leave the chair for about five minutes after the credits rolled, to give my wracking sobs a chance to recede.
I should specify that I am a cryer – it doesn’t take much (read: anything to do with animals or old people) to set me off. But this was just ridiculous – it was like every feeling of love, of loss, that I’d ever had was rising up in my bones and spilling out onto that saturated tissue stuffed down the seat of the Stella.
Onscreen love is a tricky thing to do right – it has to be romantic without being twee, passionate without being uncomfortable, realistic without losing the magic. A Star is Born blew it all away – Ally and Jack, though imperfect, sometimes toxic, often unworkable, had the magic.
Yeah, yeah, we all know Shallow has our hearts, but my god, have you tried listening to Never Love Again with your headphones on on a packed bus at 7am and not bawled your eyes out?
Have you listened to Hair Body Face on the way to a night out and realised that Ally’s pop phase was vastly underrated by Jack and deserved more hype?
Have you listened to Maybe it’s Time on loop for two hours and convinced yourself that Bradley Cooper may actually be better than Bruce Springsteen (it’s been a year and I still can’t look myself in the eye and fully deny this)?
Any great love story has, or at least deserves, an equally great soundtrack to back it up. Jack and Rose had Celine belting it out. Harry and Sally had It Had to Be You in true New York fashion. Kat and Patrick (10 Things I Hate About You, come on guys) had Can’t Take My Eyes Off Of You on the highschool steps.
A whole movie’s worth of stellar original songwriting was only fitting for a love story like this one.
A Star is Born in Lady Gaga
If you weren’t already starkly aware of Lady Gaga’s mind bending talent before A Star is Born, I’m not sure where you were for the entirety of the 00’s.
A slew of genre-defying, fiercely clever and established-beyond-her-years songwriting meant that LG was already a star of this generation before this movie. She could well have bypassed the acting realm altogether and maintained her status as one of the best entertainers ever.
“We found Ally – the homegrown, unnurtured talent that could well have been Gaga had she not have found her big break in the early 2000s.”
But thank God she didn’t.
In A Star is Born, the peroxide blonde, maniacally genius Gaga was nowhere to be found. Instead, we found Ally – the homegrown, unnurtured talent that could well have been Gaga had she not have found her big break in the early 2000s. The voice, the star quality, all was there – but the film distinctly made clear how often talent can go tragically unnoticed without the right people around.
Gaga, as I said, was already a star – but her role as Ally catapulted her to an even higher level of God-tier iconography. She was now among the Judy Garlands, the Barbara Streisands (any wonder these women played Ally’s role in previous incarnations of the film?) as a Hollywood darling, a silver screen dynamo with talent to burn.
Her utter joy in the hysterically positive reaction to the film was a lovely sight – she stepped into her role as La La Land starlet with ease, keeping the same Gaga attitude we know and love, in periwinkle ballgowns reminiscent of Cinderella.
Because in 2018, it truly was a modern fairytale.
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