A Star Is Born Is A Good Film But One Key Scene Nearly Derails It [REVIEW]
There's a lot of hype about the new "A Star Is Born", starring and directed by Bradley Cooper. I saw it and it's very good, but one scene kept it from being great.
"A Star Is Born" is a story that been on the big screen multiple times, including the most recent 1976 version starring Barbara Streisand and Kris Kristofferson. It tells the story of a popular, troubled male singer/musician who finds not only a hidden gem of a talent, but the love of his life. With his help, her career takes off just as his addictions threaten to destroy his life.
The 2018 version of "A Star Is Born" does so many things perfectly. First, the performances by both Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga are top shelf. I was equally amazed at how well Bradly Cooper encompassed a troubled, addicted star as I was with how natural an actress Lady Gaga is in her debut role.
They perform amazingly well as actors and as the singers they play on screen. In fact, I would say that the first hour of the movie is a damn near perfect execution of this genre of film. There's good music, great chemistry and great supporting turns by a cast full of people that are fun to see: Andrew Dice Clay as Lady Gaga's dad, Sam Elliott as Bradley Cooper's brother and even a nice turn by Dave Chappelle as Cooper's friend.
It's too bad one scene nearly ruined it all for me. **SPOILER ALERT AHEAD - STOP READING IF YOU DON'T WANT TO KNOW THE ENDING**
After the rise of Lady Gaga's 'Ally', Bradley Cooper's 'Jack', who is now her husband, hits rock bottom with his alcoholism in a very public way that humiliates Ally. He then retreats to rehab where he appears to be on the right path. He next moves back in with his wife, who is ready to slow her success to keep her husband clean, sober and healthy. That plan doesn't last long once Jack is paid a visit by Ally's manager 'Rez', played by Rafi Gavron.
Rez, who's a minor character in this movie up to this point, meets privately with Jack and pretty much tells him that since he's been in rehab, Rez has been working to save Ally's career, which was nearly destroyed by Jack's behavior. He then says he knows Jack will resume drinking at some point, his marriage to Ally will end and he'll ruin the lives of the people he loves. This verbal beat down leads Jack to commit suicide on a night when he was to join his wife on stage to sing with her and attempt to start a new chapter.
Now, anyone who knows the story arch of the "A Star Is Born" movies knows that it doesn't end well for the male lead. In the 1976 version, Kris Kristofferson's character gets into a fatal car crash after speeding off while under the influence. While I don't think having Cooper's 'Jack' hang himself in the garage was the best choice, not with a motorcycle sitting right there that would've been a deadly thing to speed off on into the night, what I hated was that Rez was the catalyst for Jack's suicide.
Why have a verbal beat down by a minor character lead to the suicide when this movie has so much going for it to that point? This seems like a cheap cop-out to the story arch. Jack needed to make that choice on his own because he knew full well he couldn't fight back his demons and that it would inevitably ruin the life of Ally. Jack has only cared about what two people thought about him, Ally and his brother. Now we're supposed to believe that he'd take to heart what a jackass manager says and end his life over it? I didn't buy it when I watched the movie and I still don't.
What the screenwriters should've done is have Ally lay it out there it a way that put a mirror to Jack. Ally is shown to be a strong woman, she punches a stranger on their first date for crying out loud. Surely, she would welcome him home from rehab with a lot of love, but some tough love too. Don't let her manager talk about her pain and struggles, have her break down and tell him herself. An impassioned expression of love and a plea to stay sober because of the pain his addictions have caused would've made a great scene, maybe even an Oscar worthy one.
Then, despite it all, have him give in a final time to his addictions and make the fateful decision. Despite all his talent and love, his demons win and he knows it. That is true tragedy. That ending would not have betrayed the characters like the current ending does and it would've made the 2018 "A Star Is Born" a truly great film, rather than just the very good film that it is.