Lady Gaga plays Ally, a young women working in the restaurant service with huge unrecognised potential as a singer, whilst Cooper plays Jackson Maine, a famous musician grappling with addiction; they meet and form a musical partnership, meaning that the film becomes almost like a live concert, with the audience transported to the arena’s in which we see Jackson and Ally sing songs that the pair co-wrote together in real life.
The film is a refreshingly truthful rendition of addiction; Cooper is seen living a rock lifestyle infused with cocaine and alcohol, but for the first half of the film it only serves as a backbone to the relationship he has with Ally; this feels like a purposeful decision to show what realistically can happen with addiction, love blinding those involved and because of this sometimes only serving to nurture the process. When addiction is so often glamorised and used as tragedy porn in films, Cooper explores it incredibly touchingly; there is a point when Maine embarrasses Ally in a way that feels irreparably awful, and her avowal that it ‘is not his fault, it’s an addiction’ in such point-blank terms, is stunning.
As a viewer we spend so much time watching their faces that by the end we are swept upwards and inwards into their world.
Really what makes it a hit is the beautiful soundtrack, standing as a testament to why artists should be given the space to move between medium; Coopers voice is like that of a talented musician but also, of a talented actor, expressing a story in his performances. Aesthetically, their relationship is enthralling; whilst we are constantly watching the electric exchanges between Gaga and cooper in close, intimate shots that serve to testify to their truly incredible chemistry, with Gaga’s cool, almost imperceptible gaze serving to release and create moments of tension, as a viewer we spend so much time watching their faces that by the end we are swept upwards and inwards into their world.
Gaga’s face is unbelievably refreshing to see on screen; with the current pool of Hollywood actors all invariably looking the same, to see unconventional beauty in a star role was surprisingly relieving; Ally’s inability to accept herself as beautiful, unable to ‘make it’ due to the way she looks could mimic basic ideas that have been explored before, but doesn’t paint Ally as the ‘victim’ but merely someone moving forward despite superficial obstacles in her way defining what is culturally acceptable.
The film is a successful remake of the 1937 adaptation directed by William Welman, and successful remakes seem to be becoming less rare at the moment, with, with the Blade runner also not tanking; as for Annie 2, it’s best left unsaid.