The new remake of “A Star is Born,” starring Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga, might have your preteen or young teen begging for a movie night, but the film’s depiction of heavy drug use and self-harm make it better suited for the mature audience that its R rating suggests.
That being said, absolutely buy the soundtrack. The film is filled with incredible songs, most written by Lady Gaga, but some written and performed by Cooper, who had never sung on screen before this film.
The plot differs from the 1979 version of this film with Barbara Streisand and Kris Kristopherson, tweaking the story to make it more reflective of the current music scene.
It starts with Lady Gaga, as Ally, singing her way up a tunnel at the end of a work shift, on her way to a performance of “La Vie en Rose” at a local drag bar. The sequence is uninspiring, unlike the introduction of Bradley Cooper’s character, country rock superstar Jackson Maine, who appears on stage, guitar in hand, in a loud, thrumming sequence that feels like you’re beside him in the spotlight.
It’s when Jackson meets Ally during her performance in a nightclub that all lights turn green on this film. Their chemistry is palpable, even within the first awkward moments between a drunk, out-of-place Jackson and the confused yet charmed Ally.
Their love of music connects them, and within hours, Ally is rolling out song lyrics in a parking lot to an infatuated Jackson, and he’s inviting her to come with him on his next tour stop.
She declines, but after a few hours of sleep and a bad start to her work shift – and with the dogged determination of Jackson’s driver – Ally and her friend Ramon are on a flight to Jackson’s concert. Once she arrives backstage, Jackson introduces the song “Shallow,” which was released on YouTube last week, thrilling fans. Ally joins him on stage in a performance that inspires chills.
The next scene, a hotel-room celebration of the successful night, is abruptly cut short as Jackson passes out. The scene is a cold-shower reminder of what we knew when we met him: Jackson has a serious problem with drugs and alcohol, a problem much bigger than he is at the moment.
Still, Ally agrees to go along for the ride, orbiting Jackson on tour until a music manager seeks her out and gives her a chance to record her own music.
Jackson supports her, coming to the studio to help her find her voice on a song she wrote while she was with him. But he is struggling with his own demons, and his drug and alcohol addiction gets worse as Ally’s focus turns to her own career.
The story of these two passionate artists is both heartwarming and heartbreaking, fueled by the powerful music at the heart of the story and the incredible performances of its stars.
Parents should prepare their older teens for the emotion of the film, and take some of that warning to heart: This descent into darkness is disturbingly real, and so is the grief that comes with it.