WARNING: CONTAINS SPOILERS
I watched a Star Is Born last night. And my overwhelming feeling as the credits started to roll? One of bitter disappointment.
This is a film that’s been remade three times. The plot basically follows the same story as the previous three incarnations, including the 1972 version staring Barbra Streisand: burnt out rock/country star comes across an unknown quirky singer songwriter and in so doing gives her the opportunity of a lifetime.
In this re-telling, ‘Ally’ gets snapped up by a major record label, who proceed to transform her from a likeable sassy singer into a glossy pop princess girating to trashy tacky songs about boyfriends and texting. And because of the (some might say) unlikely casting of Lady Gaga in the title role, we watch as a likeable, streetwise gal gradually morphs into someone who bears more than a striking resemblance to her real life persona – all whilst Bradly Cooper’s character disappears down a drug fuelled drunken spiral of jealousy and despair.
After an hour and a half of watching two celebrities spinning out of control, we finally get to the point where he’s cleaned himself up, and she has to choose between her career and her rock star husband.
Bradley Cooper – who not only starred in, but produced and directed this version – stays faithful to the original plot. And this is my beef with the film. Because whilst the grim ending might be ‘more realistic’, it is, in my mind, hollow and dissatisfying.
The film ends with Lady Gaga’s character relaunching her career off the back of the heartfelt love song her husband wrote for her. There’s a fleeting second when it looks as if the screenwriters are going to pull a Sliding Doors moment out of the bag, and show us an alternative ending – one where both characters pick each other over the wishes of their evil money-grabbing manager… but it never comes. Life, so says the film, just doesn’t work that way.
Forgive me if this makes me feel just a teeny bit angry. Because surely our job – as story tellers – isn’t to reflect how the world allegedly works – that if you finally get the creative break you’ve longed for your whole life it will chew you up and spit you out. Rather, isn’t the point of a good story to show people at their very best; how things could be, and should be. Because ironically, when you actually look at real life, it turns out people can come through the shittest of experiences, only to surprise themselves and us. Take a look at “Rocket Man” or “Bohemian Rhapsody” if you don’t believe me. Two movies about the music-industry, based on true stories, where the hero manages to rise above himself and ‘the inevitable’.
By all means tell me a cautionary tale if you must, but at the very least show me how it could have been different.
As my grandfather used to say, I don’t need real-life in my entertainment, I have enough of that… in real life.
What did you think of it? Tell me in the comments below.