Not going to lie, I wasn’t overly enamoured with the plot behind this film. In fact, I even considered going to see Johnny English instead… But I so glad I trusted the critics’ reviews and booked myself a ticket; this film blew me away. (So did the soundtrack. Queue ‘Music to My Eyes’ to play indefinitely).
It was so raw and so human: at times I found myself smiling at the pure magic of the characters’ bond, and at others my heart ached and I was close to tears (which is a big deal for someone who very rarely cries at films). I don’t want to give away too much in this post, especially as it’s so rare for a trailer not to give away most of the plot before you’ve seen the film! Even as the plot developed, this was done in such a subtle way that the audience is left guessing right until the end where they will find Jackson and Ally by the end of the film.
Arguably a valid measure of success for a film of this genre is the fact that I felt such a connection to the characters, feeling their joy and pain and everything in between as much as any outsider possibly can. I think the connection I felt probably came from witnessing so much of their intimately private and disconcerting public lives and seeing how these two came together and apart at the same time. Bradley Cooper (who not only starred in the film but directed and co-produced it) did such an amazing job of revealing so many small details in his complex characters, so that you can simultaneously love and despair at. The time frame of the film was relatively short, and it seems as if this was most likely deliberate to create the sense of something extraordinary, and almost too good to be true. Yet despite all the soaring highs and devastating lows of Ally and Jackson (and Charlie (see below)), it was utterly captivating to see the progression of the couple through all of the challenges life threw at them.
Side note: In case you haven’t already heard, the couple’s dog Charlie is Bradley Cooper’s real life dog. My heart hurt when he came on screen, he is one big floofball and, I feel, executed his role perfectly from start to (heartbreaking) finish.
And as for Lady Gaga – wow. Perhaps knowing a little about her experience of mental health swayed my judgement, but I’m not even sure; she makes you feel every single emotion with her character. And her character, Ally, is so easy to love. Thinking back on the film, it struck me how Ally struck such a seemingly impossible balance of not letting someone consume you while being the most incredible support for her partner even when most people would have walked away. Lady Gaga is such an inspiration having spoken up about her PTSD after being raped, as well as her depression, and, in this beautiful film, she gives a window into another facet of mental illness. Evidently, so many people struggle with the issues depicted in this film, and likely in starkly different contexts to the characters in the film. And yet, I didn’t feel as if the film glorifies addiction in anyway – rather, it reveals the everyday impact of the disease on every relationship and just day to life in a way which I didn’t anticipate.
Often with long films (especially those that are quite emotionally demanding) I get a bit restless and wonder how much longer is left, but when the end credits started rolling of this film I wanted to see so much more of Ally and Jackson. I came out of the cinema, almost in quiet reflection, trying to take in what I’d just seen – that’s when you know a film is good.
I’d love to know via le DMs what you thought of the film if you get round to seeing it – and I would definitely recommend scheduling it in if you can, 100% worth the time and money (don’t get me started on how expensive cinema tickets are these days).
Image credits: Clay Enos, Warner Bros. 2017