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MOVIE REVIEW

A Star Is Born also known as “È nata una stella,” “Zvijezda je rođena,” “Ena asteri gennietai,” “Taip gime zvaigzde,” “Assim Nasce Uma Estrela,” “Nasce Uma Estrela,” “Nace una estrella,” “S-a nascut o stea,” “Narodziny gwiazdy,” “Zvezda je rođena,” “Zvezda je rojena,” “Zrodila sa hviezda,” «Звезда родилась», «Роди се звезда», «Народження зiрки»

MPAA Rating: R-Rating (MPAA) for language throughout, some sexuality/nudity and substance abuse.

Reviewed by: Samiatu Dosunmu
CONTRIBUTOR

Extremely Offensive
Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Adults
Genre:
Music Romance Drama Remake
Length:
2 hr. 15 min.
Year of Release:
2018
USA Release:
October 5, 2018 (wide—3,500+ theaters)
Copyright, Warner Bros. Pictures click photos to ENLARGE Copyright, Warner Bros. Pictures
Relevant Issues
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Drunkard / alcoholism / alcoholic

Self-destruction

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Depression

DEPRESSION—Are there biblical examples of depression and how to deal with it? Answer

What should a Christian do if overwhelmed with depression? Answer

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Suicide

SUICIDE—What does the Bible say? Answer

If a Christian commits suicide, will they go to Heaven? Answer

Father and son relationships

Paradise or Pain? Why is the world the way it is?
Why is the world the way it is? If God is all-knowing, all-powerful, and loving, would He really create a world like this? (filled with oppression, suffering, death and cruelty) Answer
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Sexual immorality

What is SEXUAL IMMORALITY? Answer

SEXUAL LUST—Why does God strongly warn us about it? Answer

PURITY—Should I save sex for marriage? Answer

CONSEQUENCES—What are the consequences of sexual immorality? Answer

Transvestites and homosexuality

Copyright, Warner Bros. Pictures

Music in the Bible

Copyright, Warner Bros. Pictures Copyright, Warner Bros. Pictures Copyright, Warner Bros. Pictures Copyright, Warner Bros. Pictures
Featuring: Lady GagaAlly
Bradley CooperJackson Maine
Sam ElliottBobby
Dave ChappelleGeorge “Noodles” Stone
Anthony Ramos … Ramon
Bonnie Somerville … Sally Cummings
Andrew Dice ClayLorenzo
Rafi GavronRez
Michael Harney … Wolfe
D.J. “Shangela” Pierce … Drag Bar Emcee
Willam Belli … Emerald
See all »
Director: Bradley Cooper
Producer: Live Nation Productions
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM)
See all »
Distributor: Distributor: Warner Brothers Pictures. Trademark logo.
Warner Bros. Pictures

*** WARNING: If one suffers from addiction and or struggles with suicidal thoughts or has attempted suicide, I would not recommend this movie. ***

“A Star is Born” marks Bradley Cooper’s directorial debut. Viewers are first introduced to his character Jackson Main (Bradley Cooper) as he consumes alcohol and pills before taking the stage to perform with his band at their sold-out concert. After the show, a clearly intoxicated Jackson enters a car and passes out as he is being driven away.

When Jackson regains consciousness, he demands to be taken to a bar. He directs his driver to the nearest one, which happens to be a drag bar (transvestite performers and customers). Upon arriving, he is greeted by the bouncer who recognizes him. The bouncer informs him of the nature of the bar, to which Jackson replies, “They got alcohol?” the bouncer says, “Yes.” Jackson sees no issue, enters and heads straight to the bar. He makes polite conversation with other people in the establishment who recognize him, due to his rockstar status.

Minutes later, Ally (Lady Gaga) takes the stage. Dressed in a revealing black dress, she puts on a provocative performance of Édith Piafs’ “La Vie en Rose.” During her performance, she lies down on the bar counter in front of Jackson and makes direct eye contact. He begins to cry—visibly enamored by her.

After the performance, Jackson heads backstage to the dressing room where he is greeted by drag queens who are excited to be in his company. Although he is touched by the warm welcome, he heads straight to Ally and strikes up a conversation. At first, she is reluctant to speak to Jackson. However, her apprehension dissipates as he compliments her performance and asks questions about her makeup. Smitten by her beauty and warm nature, he offers to by her a drink. She accepts, but not before informing him that he will have to wait until after she removes her makeup and washes her hair. He agrees.

As the night progresses, they begin to bond in a parking lot where Jackson reveals he grew up in Arizona; his mother died in child birth at the age of eighteen. His father was much older, but did not care for him, and he was raised by his older brother and manager Bobby (Sam Elliott).

Jackson asks Ally about her musical career. She reveals that she has never pursued one because of her big nose—which is why she never sings her own songs. Jackson smiles and genuinely shares that her nose is the feature he finds most attractive about her. Unsure of how to react, she sings a few lyrics from a song she wrote called “Shallow.”

Later, in the morning, Jackson drops her off at her house and asks her to watch his next performance. Ally declines, because she is scheduled to work. Jackson insists that she attend, and she responds by smiling and touching her nose in an outline-like fashion, turns and walks away. Jackson calls out to her to turn around. When she does, he smiles and says, “I just wanted to get another good look at you,” before driving away.

That evening, Ally and her friend Ramon (Anthony Ramos) are reprimanded by their employer for being late. Having had enough, she impulsively quits and brings Ramon with her to Jackson’s concert. Excited that Ally came, Jackson calls her on stage to sing “Shallow.” At first, she declines, but, after some encouragement, takes the stage and performs the song as a duet with Jackson. The performance is recorded on YouTube and is well received. Over time, Ally begins to perform at other Jackson concerts, and the two forge a romantic relationship.

After a series of events, the movie ends on a tragic note, forcing Ally and Bobby (Sam Elliott) to question the true nature of their respective relationship with Jackson.

Spiritual issues

Addiction

Biblically, addiction has two distinctive definitions: broadly and compulsive. The movie focuses on the latter. Compulsive addiction, which is “the unnatural need for and use of a habit-forming substance (such as heroin, nicotine, or alcohol) characterized by tolerance and by well-defined physiological symptoms upon withdrawal.” This type of addiction is a form of idolatry which the Gospel is clearly against.

“that each of you should learn to control your own body in a way that is holy and honorable.” —1 Thessalonians 4:4

Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.” —Deuteronomy 6:5

One of the strengths of this film is the accurate depiction of compulsive addiction and its intricacies. Jackson Maine exhibits compulsive addictive behavior. He is often disheveled in appearance, slurs his speech at times, stumbles when he walks, experiences prolonged blackouts, and mood swings. During Ally and Jackson’s first conversation, in the parking lot of a grocery store, Ally immediately picks up on Jackson’s lack of self-control by singing part of the lyrics to SHALLOW. “…I’m off the deep end, watch as I dive in, I’ll never hit the ground…” The lyrics are a foreshadowing of Jackson’s present and future: if Jackson does not learn to establish self-boundaries, he will continue to be his own worst enemy, until it is too late.

“Do not join those who drink too much wine or gorge themselves on meat, for drunkards and gluttons become poor, and drowsiness clothes them in rags.” —Proverbs 23:20-21

After Ally’s debut performance, both head to his hotel room with the intention of having intimate relations. Ally excuses herself to go to the bathroom, only to return and witness Bobby (Sam Elliott) putting the intoxicated and blacked-out Jackson (Bradley Cooper) to bed. Bobby warns her to be careful; Jackson has demons. Jackson uses alcohol and drugs to suppress his demons, rather than face them.

During one of her solo performances, she meets Rez (Rafi Gavron), a music producer who expresses interest in managing her career—to which she agrees. To support her, Jackson begins to realize the depth of his addiction when a visibly upset Ally shows up at his good friend George “Noodles” Stone’s house (Dave Chappelle) after he fails to honor his promise to show up at her first solo concert. She tells him she was worried sick and will not come looking for him again. Touched by her caring nature and unshakable loyalty towards him, Jackson decides to support her by trying sobriety.

Idolatry

According to Webster’s dictionary, idolatry is defined as “the worship of idols or excessive devotion to, or reverence for some person or thing.” The Bible is clear that this is a form of sin and an insult to God.

“You shall have no other gods before me.” —Exodus 20:3

As the movie unfolds, underneath the surface of Jackson’s alcoholism and drug abuse lies depression. He shares with Ally that his father was 63 when he was born, and it affected him that his brother was much older and took care of him. Nevertheless, he idolized his father, in a God-like fashion.

“Be careful to do everything I have said to you. Do not invoke the names of other gods; do not let them be heard on your lips.” —Exodus 23:13

DEPRESSION—Are there biblical examples of depression and how to deal with it? Answer

What should a Christian do if overwhelmed with depression? Answer

Later, as Ally’s fame skyrockets, Jackson relapses. He becomes increasingly hostile toward her, often insulting her by bringing up her insecurities about her physical appearance. She points out that he is a drunk and wonders if he would respect her more if she drank with him too, like his father. In Jackson’s case, his father was like God to him, which further fuels his depression of not having his primary enabler and those around him refusing to be a part of his self-destruction.

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In their book entitled BOUNDARIES, both Drs. Henry Cloud and John Townsend argue that “[…] as Christians we know that willpower alone guarantees failure. We are denying the power of the relationship promised in the cross. If all we need is our will to overcome evil, we certainly don’t need a Savior. […] the truth is willpower alone is useless against self-boundary struggles.”

Within the dynamics of Ally and Jackson’s relationship, both idolize each other. She because he seems to be the only person who loves her despite what she deems as her flawed physical appearance, and he because she forgives and remains loyal to him, despite his numerous relapses. To navigate their tumultuous relationship, both exhibit willpower.

Content of concern

The open act of drug use— In one scene, Jackson is seen snorting lines of powdered drugs. In another, he purchases and injects steroids.

Fornication— There are scenes of Ally and Jackson engaging in intimate relations while not being married.

Physical violence— There is a bar fight scene, and another where Jackson physically attacks his brother.

We see drag queens either in the nude or getting ready. At one point, a performer asks Jackson to sign his fake female bosom. Lady Gaga is seen completely nude and dressed in revealing clothing with her nipples or buttocks showing.

Offensive language— There is numerous uses uses of various forms of the word f*** in the form of “f*ck me,” “f*ck shit,” etc. There were almost too many to count. Please be aware that the dialog also contains a lot of profane language.

Moviemaking Quality

“For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel—not with wisdom and eloquence, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power.” —1 Corinthians 1:17

During the Toronto Film Festival premiere, Bradley Cooper told “Vanity Fair” that he made this film because, “I wanted to tell a story about people needing each other and how hard that is, no matter your background. …The whole thing is that these two people found each other, and it is a pure love.” In some way, he is right. However, we need the cross more than we need man, because Jesus does not disappoint.

TRUE LOVE—What is true love and how do you know when you have found it? Answer

What is Christian LOVE? Answer

  • Vulgar/Crude language: Extreme— • f-words (90+) • s-words (15+) • b**bs • t*tties • t*ts • a**hole • a** (3) • son of b*tch
  • Nudity: Very Heavy
  • Sex: Heavy to Very Heavy
  • Alcohol and drugs: Very Heavy
  • Profane language: Heavy— • J*sus • G*d-d*mn (2) • G*d (11) • H*ll (12)
  • Violence: Moderate

See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.


Viewer CommentsSend your comments
Comments below:
Negative
Negative— I have seen all the “Star Is Born” films. I can’t help myself. The melodramatic plot—even in this recent version—never changes. But who can resist the story of a rising star and a falling one, vying for space, and especially for time, under a constantly shifting, and rarely kind, spotlight? You get a Susan Boyle miracle moment as well as some car wreck footage. Both the good angels and the bad angels of our nature are appeased.

My favorite of the 4 versions is the shimmering, and very boozy, 1953 telling starring Judy Garland and James Mason. Garland takes you to the top with her, but she makes you see—and feel—how each step up the billboard ensures that something else has to give way. Mason’s Norman Maine (updated to Jackson Maine in the new version) is stylish and debonair even as he lets his soul give into despair.

Garland’s Esther (Ally now) matches him perfectly. Her driving optimism is endearing in its innocence, but when she sings “The Man That Got Away” she sears how fame brings as much loss as gain into Norman’s heart, and into ours. It is one of cinema’s great moments.

Nothing like that happens in the new version. Bradley Cooper is a good actor, and Lady Gaga is a good singer, but you need great performers to carry off this schmaltz. Adding Italian family sit-com humor, drag voguing, AA meetings (do they really assign homework at those?), bits of nudity, and the F word in every line of dialogue only serves to dilute any chemistry that seems to exist between the two stars, but that rarely ignites.

One last thing: I was surprised that a belt was used as a prop in one of the final scenes after two celebrity suicides that occurred earlier this year involved a similar technique. It was a clueless moment in a film that provides us with many clues as to how the filmmaking industry has declined so in the years since the first “Star Is Born” movie was released in 1937—one that starred Janet Gaynor and Frederick March, and is also a gem.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Very Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 2
—Jim O’Neill, age 65 (USA)

PLEASE share your observations and insights to be posted here.

Secular Movie Critics
…the best film of the year so far…
Johnny Oleksinski, New York Post
…Musically sharp and dramatically flat…
Roger Moore, Movie Nation
…Lady Gaga’s performances are electrifying. Combine that with the genuine-feeling romance between the co-stars and the heartbreak of its dissolution, and you have one soaring and searing piece of movie entertainment…
Kevin Lally, Film Journal International
…oozes with romantic chemistry between Cooper and Gaga, as well as the stunning command of rock & roll visual tropes evidenced by Cooper and his director of photography…
Marjorie Baumgarten, The Austin Chronicle
…Don’t futz with a good formula. That’s the main thing the latest remake of the 1937 golden-era Hollywood melodrama “A Star Is Born” does spectacularly right. …The aim is to jerk tears and, the more cynical among us might say, to win awards. But when an old saw is this well told, it proves hard to resist.
Keith Uhlich, Slant Magazine
…What Bradley Cooper’s beguiling “A Star Is Born” is very, very good at is showing us how a song can transform a person, or a moment, and how that transformation just might make us fall in love with the person singing it, for a moment or for longer. …
Moira Macdonald, The Seattle Times
…There is plenty that’s wrong with it, and there’s plenty that’s right with it. But the truth is, in the moment, no one is balancing pros and cons. I just loved it. It’s a film that combines an overall feeling of modernity and relevance with the glow of old-time glamour. …
Mick LaSalle, San Francisco Chronicle
…It is far from perfect, but the entertainment value is undeniable. …
Rex Reed, The New York Observer