A Star is Born is about a singer named Esther Blodgett who while playing with her band at a theatre one night crosses paths with the drunk and troubled film star Norman Maine. Norman seeks her out and after seeing how talented she is, convinces her that she is fit for movie stardom. Although she has to overcome many obstacles on her path, this dream does come true and as Esther's star begins to shine bright, Norman's slowly begins to fade away.
I really liked this film and the main reason for that is obviously Judy Garland and her incredible performance. Everyone has heard about her own personal issues that caused a lot of problem in her professional life, especially during this film. But one never really sees any of it in the film which is a tribute to both Garland and director George Cukor.
Garland goes from joyful to heartbreaking within seconds, both in her singing and in her acting. My biggest issue with the film was not exactly the film's fault. Since I saw the restored version, a considerable part of the film consists of production stills with dialogue being played over it that really annoyed me. However, every time Garland sang or danced, I forgot about all of that. She is so perfect in this role that all the problems seem trivial in comparison.
She's not the only "star" in the film though. James Mason, who I knew as Humbert Humbert from Kubrick's Lolita, played Norman and he too is very good. He makes Norman's decline very poignant and universal. I liked that the film is as much about the end of a star as it is about the beginning, even though the title only addresses the second part. Therefore, both Garland and Mason become integral parts to what it's trying to show us and tell us about the entertainment business. They also have great chemistry together. I cried several times during the movie because of both of them.
The film is a beautiful but ultimately biting portrayal of the fickleness of the Hollywood studio system. Sure, the sets and the costumes may be gorgeous, but what we end up remembering is the way Norman stumbles in drunk at the Oscars begging for a job. A lot of other gruesomer aspects of the business is shown, for example Esther's name change or her nose job or Norman's awful publicist or, of course, the fact that can true love exist in a place like that?
The movie reminded me a lot of The Artist which I bet was inspired by it, or at least one of its other versions. This is the only version that I've seen but I am curious now to check out the 1937 version too, just to see how it fairs.
This is my last Blind spot review of the year. I really wanted to make it bigger and talk about some other aspects of the film (for instance: how stunning it is) but I don't have the time right now :/ Let's hope I'm better with these entries next year.