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A better film than the Streisand remake, but Gaga's no Streisand, even if she's pretty good.
This one is firing on all cylinders for the first half, but once it gets into the downturn, it feels like Cooper didn't have the guts to really dig into the destructiveness of his character (as director, that is; the performance is fine) or the question of Ally's authenticity/lack thereof.
Still, shot brilliantly, directed competently, and acted well. Totally worth seeing in the theatre for a little reminder of how good the old-school Hollywood approach can be when it's done sincerely.
The Elevator Belonging To Alice - Semi Final Bluecat, Runner Up Nashville Inner Journey - Page Awards Finalist - Bluecat semi final Grieving Spell - winner - London Film Awards. Third - Honolulu Ultimate Weapon - Fresh Voices - second place IMDb link... http://www.imdb.com/name/nm7062725/?ref_=tt_ov_wr
Despite some solid performances and an impressive soundtrack, this film simply did not work for me. Here's why...
-Bradley Cooper as a Director: B Coop did a fantastic job as Jackson Maine (no surprise there). However, as a director, he made several missteps. And his lack of experience can be seen very early in the film with some awkward tonal transitions mid scene. For example, Gaga goes from 0 to 100 in the bar with little motivation. Why would be be so defensive of someone whom she just met? Or take the scene where she starts singing randomly in the parking lot. Not only is the transition awkward, but would Maine be suspicious of someone who is showing off to him? Surely, this isn't the first time someone has shown interest in him due to his status. However, the two biggest missteps come during the third act of the film. These mistakes derail the film so much, that they deserve their own bullet points.
-The pissing scene: Why in god's green earth did this need to go this far? Maine already embarrassed Ally by stumbling on stage. There was simply no need for him to piss himself when you already achieved the same result. Maine pissing himself is awkward and laughable. I no longer took the film seriously after this moment. And once again, Cooper simply didn't need to go there. Instead of him voiding on stage, maybe a security guard or another celebrity could have prevented a clearly drunk Maine from going on stage. From there, a fight breaks out and Maine ruins Ally's big moment. Same effect, but different cause...and not entirely fucking stupid.
-The suicide cut: Holy shit, this edit was amazing. I had to hold back tears. Not from crying, but from laughing. Seriously, it took all I had not to literally laugh out loud (I'm a member of the church and don't want to ruin other people's experience). So just to recap, Ally is on stage performing and says something along the lines of, "Now give it up for my husband, Jackson Maine!" And the film cuts to a silent shot of Maine hanging in his garage. JESUS CHRIST. The cut was so abrupt and so heavy handed, that it was borderline comical. What little faith I had in the film after that pissing shot was immediately lost. And once again, the decision to do this was so baffling. I'm not sure if this edit is in the other three films, but even so, there's simply no need for it. The same effect could be accomplished in a way less exploitative film technique. And in regards to the suicide, it feels a bit unprompted. Granted, you don't know what's going through anyone's head when they commit suicide. However, Maine seems to be doing better when he kills himself. And given Ally's willingness to cancel her tour, the suicide feels very selfish overall.
Overstuffed yet shallow: So there's A LOT going on in this film thematically speaking. We have Ally and Maine's relationship, Maine's relationship with his brother, Maine's struggle with drugs and alcohol, Maine's career slowly fading, Ally's career progressing upwards, Ally's relationship with her father, Ally seemingly selling out while trying to stay true to herself, Maine's demons coming back to haunt him, Ally's relationship with her manager, and so on and so forth. And to be honest, it's not entirely the film's fault. There's just a lot going on in general when you tackle this subject matter. But the film feels unfocused and all over the place. I kind of wish they just focused on Ally and Jackson and that's it. Because to be honest, the whole movie feels kind of shallow. You don't really get a deep understand of Ally, Jackson, or their relationship. Why are these two people even together?
Pacing: I get that you have to suspend your believe as a movie goer, but this film asks for too much from the audience. The timeline of the film speeds up and slows down without any warning. And this is evident with Ally's career. She goes from a nobody to a Grammy award winning artist within an hour. Why go that far that fast? The same could be said with the wedding scene. Why do the proposal and the wedding in the same day? There's just no reason for it. Oh and let's not forget the time Maine brings Ally on stage to sing without any practice WHATSOEVER. That's not being helpful. That's just being a shitty person by putting someone on the spot.
Inconsistencies: My last gripe with the film concern's the inconsistencies within the characters and their personalities. And Ally is the biggest culprit. She goes from being incredibly stern about Jackson's drinking to angry/hurt to loving and accepting. Jackson goes from hating his brother to admiring his brother. Bobby goes from being fed up with Maine to forgiving him. And all of these transitions just happened. They're not explained for is there any reason for them to happen. This makes the film's narrative feel clunk.
Overall, I'd give this film a C+ or B-. I think Gaga was great (with the exception of a few lines) and everyone brought their A game performance wise. And like I said before, the soundtrack is breathtaking. When Gaga performs on stage, you realize that she's a true celebrity in every sense of the word. However, Cooper handles the film's story and direction like he's Maine on stage...drunk, nonsensical, and pissing himself.