When A Star Is Born was released into Australian cinemas in October 2018, a new psychological term was on the cusp of being coined; How could we describe this bursting, overwhelming – and almost aggressive – emotion we were experiencing when watching Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper on screen? Was it the love story, the soundtrack that accompanies it or the longing for the two main leads to get together in real life? We couldn’t pin-point what it was that had us Googling everything about this film and DM’ing it to our girlfriends. (I am even guilty of sending videos of Cooper and his rumoured fiancé Irina Shayk to a colleagues’ inbox with the subject line, ‘Do you think they are really happy?’)
GRAZIA’s resident psychologist Gemma Cribb offers some explanation, citing reason as to why it’s hard for us to regain our emotional equilibrium after watching this particular film. “Falling in love, losing someone you love, feeling inadequate and loving someone who is flawed are themes that most of us have some experience in in our own lives,” Cribb says. “The emotions that we particularly feel in response to the themes in the film are generally related to how we ourselves would feel if that were to happen to us. Therefore, if the actor expresses the same emotional reaction that we would have (for example, Ally’s sadness at the loss of a loved one) we empathise and feel sad ourselves.”
It seems like a simple explanation – but coupled with the film’s raw and emotional soundtrack (the music was all recorded live), Cribb says we experience this vulnerable feeling double-fold. She says because Lady Gaga is a popstar in real life like Ally, it causes us to see the character beyond the film walls. “This subliminally works to help us question whether this story is a true story beyond the cinema.”
Cribb says unlike characters like Lara Croft or Batman – where they are deemed too perfect and therefore lack intimacy with the viewer – the film’s storyline itself doesn’t following a regular narrative. “A Star Is Born begins as a classic romantic tragedy. Just like Romeo and Juliet, the main characters find love but can’t be together in the end,” explains Cribb. “We spend the whole movie getting to know, liking, and even falling in love with these characters and are left grieving the loss they face at the end. But it’s because of this story arc, we are more likely to carry our emotions out-of-the cinema than a neat story with a happy ending.”
Food for thought on Golden Globes day.