Praise for A Star Is Born: A Haunting and Electrifying Look into the Entertainment Industry

There wasn't a dry eye in the theater as the screen faded to black at the end of "A Star Is Born". Part of this came from Lady Gaga’s raw delivery of the song “I’ll Never Love Again” that left a lasting impact on the audience as they exited the theater. But looking deeper, this film extends way beyond the riveting acting and musical capabilities of Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper. "A Star Is Born" explores the need for your authentic voice to be heard in an industry that breeds conformity, and the emotional turmoil that lingers from feeling shut out.

The movie staggers between moments of pure, electrifying bliss, and also the extremely haunting and uncomfortable realities of the entertainment industry. The movie begins with Ally (Lady Gaga) serendipitously meeting famous country singer, Jackson Maine (Bradley Cooper) at a drag bar while belting her heart out to “La Vie En Rose.” Jack and Ally feel drawn to each other in a way that neither of them has experienced before--they both are dying to have their voice heard by someone.

This sounds counterintuitive, as the movie opens with Jack on stage in front of an adoring crowd at his sold-out concert. However, we learn that Jack is a struggling alcoholic and drug addict who grew up with an abusive father. While Jack is intuitive, gentle, and talented, we constantly see his voice being overlooked and dismissed by others due to his mental illness and past struggles.

The first time Jack and Ally sing together on stage, they perform “Shallow,” a song written by Ally that really spoke to Jack. This performance evoked such emotion from me that I had tears in my eyes and goosebumps on my arms from the moment the first guitar strings were strummed. This song was a moment of true bliss--seeing two talented people in their element making their voices heard was absolutely bone-chilling. It illustrated the kind of euphoria we all try to seek out in our lives, no matter what profession it may fall into. It resonated with me in a way that all great movies should, and I think I left a piece of my heart in the theater as the song came to a close.

As Ally gains more visibility while going on tour with Jack, some dissension occurs between the themes of authenticity and popularity. Rez, a music producer, offers Ally a record deal and claims to not want to stifle Ally’s authentic voice and appearance. From the moment Ally mentions the contract to Jack, he grows uncomfortable, as he knows how this industry is notorious for making carbon-copy stars characterized by meaningless lyrics, background dancers, and images of “perfection.”

The movie turns dark as Jack and Ally, once free to express their voices and ideas without judgment and fear, are both completely shut out. Ally becomes brainwashed by fame, ditching her piano and raw vocals for autotune and SNL performances. Jack, clearly upset by this, is completely disregarded and deemed as a “drunk” who is just spitting nonsense, when in fact he was the one who was right all along.

The latter half of the movie has chilling scenes of Jack being ostracized for his mental illness, which speaks volumes about how this topic is viewed in the entertainment industry and society at large.

How far gone does one have to get in order for people to actually listen to what they have to say?

"A Star Is Born" explores the natural need for passion and love in a world that feeds off of success and accolades. How to navigate saying what you want to say without losing people you love in the process. Most importantly, it reminds us that mental illness does not define a person, in a time that the world desperately needs to hear this sentiment.

This movie will set your soul on fire and encourage you to explore what you’re most passionate about. It also will ground you and encourage you to see past the exterior that people tend to show to the world. Most notably, it reminds us that success isn’t measured in fame and notoriety, rather, in the ability to rid yourself of judgment and truly listen to someone’s voice.

At the end of the day, being heard is more important than being known.

Images courtesy of ComingSoon and HotCorn.