Here’s a spoiler heavy thread on why Bradley Cooper’s #AStarIsBorn fails in regard to its sexual politics and misunderstanding of its own nature.
.#AStarIsBorn 2018 re-tells a story without updating the late-mid 20th century gender politics to reflect our very different times. Of the four versions, the first three were made in the era of the casting couch, the new version in the time of #Metoo
The first version of #AStarIsBorn was released in 1937, the same year as Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. We wouldn’t expect the mooted live action version of Disney’s classic animation to have a heroine as passive or as un-ironically domesticated as the original.
.#AStarIsBorn charts the relationship between a wealthy older husband and mentor and his young wife and protege. The first three versions are the product of male producers and directors and predominantly male writers, it’s always framed as a tragic love story.
In 2018’s #AStarIsBorn Bradley Cooper combines those three roles with that of lead actor, and so unthinkingly continues to frame it in the same way, with the male character presented as being a tragic figure
However far from #AStarIsBorn being a tragic love story, it’s a tale of abuse. The key driver of abuse is the desire to control, which Cooper’s character, named Jackson Maine in Cooper’s version, seeks at all times to exert over Lady Gaga’s character, Ally.
Jackson’s controlling nature is flagged up early. He has his chauffeur stake out Ally’s house until she agrees to be flown to his gig. Later he drags her on stage to perform. #AStarIsBorn
Enter record producer, Rez, who because he threatens Jackson’s control over Ally, is framed as the film’s ‘bad guy’. Even though Rez never tries to have sex with Ally, treats her with respect and works hard to make Ally’s career a success. #AStarIsBorn
At this point Jackson tries to reassert his control over Ally by proposing marriage, disapproving of her new career direction, and calling her ugly. And yet the film believes #AStarIsBorn is a romantic love story.
When these strategies fail, Jackson’s heavy drinking nearly sabotages her career at an awards ceremony debacle. Even though Ally cancels her European tour, Jackson violently commits suicide. #AStarIsBorn
Tragically this attempt of gaslighting from the grave works. Ally is made to feel guilty for his death and in publicly taking Jackson’s name, Ally submits once more to his control. #AStarIsBorn
In framing the story in the style of the original and not taking account of the progress in sexual politics, there is a huge dissonance between the film #AStarIsBorn 2018 believes it is – a tragic love story – and the film it actually is – a tragic tale of abuse.
.#AStarIsBorn 2018 is pernicious for equating love with control, and suggesting violence solves ‘romantic’ difficulties.
Plus it’s not best to represent suicide as an act of love when suicide is the most common cause of death for men aged 20-49 years in England and Wales. #AStarIsBorn
Here’s hoping the new Snow White meets a prince more respectful and loving of her than Jackson is of Ally. #AStarIsBorn
Here’s my review of the film