I watched an interview with Lady Gaga and Stephen Colbert a couple days before I saw "A Star is Born", curious and invested in the making of this highly rated movie. What stood out to me the most, aside from Lady Gaga's incredible gratitude and wisdom, was when she talked about how every performance the two of them did in the movie was done live and in front of an audience.
A few of the songs from the movies' soundtrack had been released before the movie premiered, and the whole album dropped when the movie actually came out. I found myself humming to their songs on the walk to class and when driving home for fall break.
Needless to say, I already loved the movie before I saw it.
And I still loved it when it started. Bradley Cooper's insane musical opening, Lady Gaga's intense and immediate performance, the way the title "A Star is Born" faded in slowly in red letters while she strolled down a dark street. Everything screamed an authentic Hollywood aesthetic.
The conversations between the two characters were striking, too. They were awkward, both a little flustered, and the whole dynamic felt so raw and natural. The way the movie played with sound, both through music and through silence, was very telling in of itself.
The movie does do a great job with music and with telling a love story, but it had a story to tell that was a lot bigger than those two themes, and it was supported perfectly by the way it was filmed.
Bradley Cooper's character, Jack Maine, deals with drug addiction. It's something established from the very beginning of the movie through shaken scenes of him taking pills and drinking heavy amounts of alcohol. Honestly, it's mostly brushed over in the beginnings of the movie, thrown in very casually in a way that hints towards its audience.
He ends up in rehab after an especially bad night when Ally, Lady Gaga's character, wins a Grammy, and he drunkenly stumbles on stage and embarrasses her. His apology to her is heartbreaking, and watching Ally comfort him and remind him that what he was dealing with was in fact a disease was one of the most powerful moments of the movie.
It was especially hard after this scene when Jack hanged himself. It was shot in a way that was so simple and so painful, I found myself unable to tear my eyes away from the screen. The movie was wrapped up so well, in a way that instantly broke everyone's hearts, and it left me feeling a bit sad, but more understanding of what the movie was telling me.
Jack's death was arguably surprising, but it wasn't really all that surprising when you think about it. So often we look at treatment as a singular thing, that once you go once, you're completely okay.
Healing, in every sense of the word, is not a linear process. There are days so good that can so easily be followed by days that put you at rock bottom again. The suicide in this movie was so much less about fault; it was a big, emotionally-tethered reminder that drug addiction is an addiction, and that we really need to change the ways in which we approach that.
And that, in my opinion, is something the world very much needs to hear.