I really enjoyed A Star Is Born; the music is fabulous, Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga kill it, and the ending crushed me.
But the main dilemma, Ally’s choice between a famous pop career or a smaller1 indie career, is too easy. There’s really not much to recommend the more famous path: Ally’s producer is a mercenary and disregards anything she wants, she doesn’t seem happier performing on pop stages, and it keeps her away from Jack, whom she dearly loves. Her troubles with Jack stem from his alcoholism and drug abuse, not any desire on her part to pursue the kind of independent career she does. I could easier she her being happier if she signed with whomever produced Jack. After all, Jack was the one who helped her get comfortable in the recording studio. If she had taken a more indie path, I could easily see him continuing to support her in recording sessions and otherwise.
Moreover, by the end. Jack seems to have come to terms with Ally’s career. He kills himself after Rez convinces him that he’s holding her back. In doing so, Rez moves himself beyond any sort of sympathy: to him Ally’s fame is a source of profit.2 He’d rather make her miserable than let her pursue the life she wants. There’s no doubt that if Ally ever learns what Rez said she’d be beyond furious. Given she punched out a cop at the beginning of the film, I could easily see her physically attacking him.
The film would be all the more powerful if Ally actually had a hard decision. If at the end, rather than Rez pushing Jack over the edge, she had made a choice to prioritize her pop career. If perhaps she had left Jack on her own accord and he made the decision on his own to take his life. In the actual film, his sacrifice isn’t a tragic action to enable Ally to realize her talent; it’s a horror that breaks her heart and ruins her dream.
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