“A Star is Born: Encore” Review

Following the film’s accolades this most recent awards season, A Star is Born has been re-released in theaters for a short period as an encore. The new version features twelve additional minutes of footage as a gift to the fans. This bode well for particular fans, such as myself, who have seen the original version of the film about seven times. For people like me, these extra twelve minutes were anxiously awaited and warmly welcomed. 

I was initially curious as to how the extra minutes would be spread across the film. Having seen it so many times, I felt fine to miss the first few minutes to get a refill on popcorn; it was going to be Bradley Cooper’s character, Jackson Maine, doing his first song. I slipped out at the very beginning and had to have been gone 4 minutes, but to my surprise, he was still going strong. My friend that I came with told me that it was an extended version of his performance. This made me especially hopeful for what was to come in terms of some of Lady Gaga’s character, Ally’s, songs that only got their full length on the soundtrack. Songs like “Look What I Found” and “Diggin’ My Grave” got more screen time, if only for 30 more seconds, than they initially did which made the film feel wholly more musical. Not to mention, the parking lot scene where “Shallow” was conceived got the fleshed out treatment that it deserved and the new song “Clover” whose performance is the scene from the movie poster that didn’t otherwise appear.

Arguably the best extension of the musical performances was in the song “Is That Alright?” which originally only made an appearance in the end credits. In the encore version, however, the audience is given a beautifully moving introduction to the song with Ally performing it to her freshly wedded husband, Jackson. Thinking I had already cried all I could to this film, this inclusion of the live performance of Ally as the bride serenading with raw, powerhouse vocals was an emotional minefield. I couldn’t be happier to see it, more moved to hear it and sadder to have it be over. I knew it was coming and still wasn’t able to prepare when Ally introduced the song saying “I hope it’s alright if I love you forever.” Just beautiful from the very beginning.

Courtesy: Slate

 

Besides the music, what was most notable about the additional minutes was that much of it came in very small doses. Including the steps Jackson takes to pull Ally to the front microphone and her hesitation, rather than cutting to her directly walking over, or staying on Ally a second longer after Jackson speaks to watch her react to him, or even Ally laughing to ask “Is that stupid?” after first sharing her idea for the “Shallow” chorus. These are all small moments that one wouldn’t think would make a difference, but just gave things a better flow that felt less edited and more natural. Each look, laugh and comment just contributed to the human element of this powerful love story.

While many scenes were lengthened, including the interaction between Jackson and Dave Chappelle’s character or Ally and the drag queens, there were also several scenes that got added in that were never seen before. A montage of Ally and Jackson on the tour bus and their fun with the band on the road, an interaction between Ally and Jackson’s therapist, Carl, about being musicians, a conversation between Jackson and the singer performing at the Grammy’s tribute, Ally looking over designs in planning her world tour, Ally and Jackson enjoying time at their home and Jackson playing the beginning of “I’ll Never Love Again” in a side studio were all scenes that were not present in the original film. While some felt unnecessary, as a whole it felt as though these scenes shouldn’t have been cut to begin with because they added so much to the narrative despite their briefness. They fleshed out the story, filled minor plot confusions that arose without them, and added a sense of reality to the grandeur of “A Star is Born.”

Overall, the added twelve minutes felt completely worth another ticket purchase. Even as a fan of the film from the start, I was apprehensive as to how much a few more minutes of longer musical performances would add to the experience, but there was a great payoff at the end. It’s the kind of film that is so easy to watch over and over, so the encore added a bonus breath of life into the already uber-successful hit. The encore gave the typical director’s cut from the DVD a chance to see the big screen which was an opportunity that doesn’t come often and has definitely spurred a desire for a viewing number nine.