In this new and hopefully regular feature, I will, using a combination of observation, inference, and irresponsibly haphazard conjecture, attempt to surmise the plots of upcoming films based on scene-by-scene deconstructions of their trailers. In this first installment, I take on the 2018 feature film “A Star Is Born”.
We open on a nationalist rally for some sort of strongman ruler. Zealots fervently wave a diverse assortment of flags, a melange of patriotic salutes to an indecisive despot. What does this despot want his flag to look like? This despot cannot decide.
This despot is Bradley Cooper. He serenades his throng of rabid supporters with a revolutionary anthem: “Maybe it’s time to let the old ways die.” A changing of the guard has occurred. The previous regime has been ousted at the hands of Cooper’s insurgency. The film’s title begins to become apparent. A Star Is Born. On the American flag, each star represents a state. This is the beginning of a new state.
Dear Leader Cooper stumbles around. A big hat sits low on his head, concealing bloodshot eyes. He is drunk. Drunk on what? Drunk on power.
In this shot, Cooper unscrews a bottle of liquor, an on-the-nose physical representation of his authoritative intoxication.
Honorable Chairman Cooper points to the heavens. He thinks himself God.
The symptoms of Cooper’s power-inebriation and subsequent power-hangover continue to manifest. Here Cooper covers his ears to block out loud sounds. He eschews a shirt to air out his sweat-drenched skin. And still delirious, he insists on godhood.
Fuhrer Cooper’s friend Dave Chappelle tries to tell Cooper how concerned he is about his friend’s turn into a megalomaniacal dictator, but a power-sloshed Cooper is not listening as he has already blacked out.
Our Supreme Leader saunters up to a meeting of his cabinet, the notorious Circle of 8, to discuss the blackmailing of dissidents and general quashing of opposition.
Generalissimo Cooper visits the red-hued darkroom at the headquarters of his secret police to get compromising photos of his political opponents developed.
A woman, Lady Gaga, is on the chopping block, her head literally rolls to the side as she foreshadows her own execution. Cooper contemplates saving Gaga, asking if she “writes songs or anything?” Perhaps she can be of use to him. Gaga, demonstrating her rebellious streak, does not directly answer his question: “I don’t sing my own songs.” Cryptic. Cooper further grills Gaga with hard-hitting questions like “Why?” and “Why don’t you feel comfortable?” The harsh interrogation induces Gaga to have flashbacks to life before she was detained.
Flashback: Gaga looks into the mirror to make sure the secret police aren’t behind her, about to murder her.
Flashback: Gaga writes her last will and testament by the light of phone in a cramped recess, hiding from the secret police who will likely murder her.
Gaga finally breaks under the pressure and spills the beans. Gaga confesses to Cooper that she has a good singing voice. She also drops the bombshell that she is an ugly person who no one likes to look at.
The twist that Lady Gaga is a hideous crone is upstaged by an even bigger twist that Daddy Cooper digs her odious homeliness: “I think you’re beautiful.” Gaga’s surprise is registered by the raise of her revolting eyebrows on her monstrous mug. Gaga knows from watching state TV that Dictator Cooper is indecisive as hell, and the fact that he is so cocksure in his attraction to her physical abomination is astounding. This scene also demonstrates the degree to which Cooper’s absolute authority has deluded him, to falling for such a grotesque goblin as Lady Gaga.
In this scene, Tyrant Cooper sports a burnt crimson complexion symptomatic of advanced Stage-4 Asian glow. It contrasts with the ghastly wraithlike pallor of his new personal muse/songstress Lady Gaga. Cooper rolls down the window of his car to tell Gaga he just wants to look at her again. She is an object to him, a sort of lovely, unsightly trophy. He is a king, and his subjects are mere objects for his own pleasure and entertainment.
Lady Gaga twirls like a helicopter, desperately trying to create enough lift to whisk herself out of her hellish subordination.
Keeping her eyes on the skies, Gaga attempts escape by way of some sort of improvised zipline, but the beastly regent Cooper thwarts her, wresting her out of the air like a Giant Trevally snatching a low-flying seabird.
As the honeymoon period wears off, Cooper’s approval ratings begin to sour. He holds another rally to reinvigorate his base. He commands Gaga, “Here’s what you’re going to do. You’re going to sing that song that I love.” She has no choice in the matter. But Gaga resists. “No, I can’t do that.” She doesn’t want to do it.
She really doesn’t want to do it.
But Cooper insists, trying to forcefully drag her out on stage with him. He finally lets her go, and she sees that despite Cooper’s corrupted heart, he has a weird soft spot for her.
As the light adorning her changes from blue-green to red, Gaga makes the choice to become the monster – to give in to what Bradito Cooperlini wants in order to destroy his autocracy from the inside.
A montage ensues of Gaga’s seduction of the authoritarian Cooper intercut with scenes of her rebellion.
Gaga romances Cooper. The bottle in her hand mirrors the one Cooper held earlier in the trailer. In the process of deceiving Cooper, is she becoming just as drunk on power as he is?
Gaga writes a coded message on sensitive intelligence she’s gathered while undercover as Cooper’s First Lady.
Gaga, masked, accompanies Cooper on a Colectivo-style motorcycle raid to beat and terrorize protesters. Complicity.
Gaga enjoying the ill-gotten but decadent comforts of the monarchy.
Gaga’s life of luxury contrasts sharply with the barren wasteland into which the rest of the country has devolved under Cooper’s despotic rule.
Gaga cries. Despite her superficial physical beautification, signified by the flower tucked behind her ear, Gaga weeps for the internal monster she has created.
A former revolutionary leader and mentor to Cooper, Sam Elliott, tries to warn him that he has gone astray and to be wary of those around him.
Gaga gives her all to Cooper, using her body to further entrance him.
Gaga is unable to look herself in the mirror anymore. At the beginning of the film, in spite of her repulsive appearance, Lady Gaga is able to look her reflection dead in the dead eyes. But now, she can’t stand the sight of the true menace she’s become. She smashes glass. She squats and screams at the floor of a public restroom.
The Coop appears to learn of Gaga’s betrayal. Will she be able to convince him otherwise?
Yes. Gaga turns Cooper on his former hero. He lashes out at Elliott for suggesting that he has lost his way and that Gaga is to blame.
Bradley Cooper likes to swim, I guess.
A deceased Cooper is carried off by body guards following an assassination attempt by Resistance forces using intelligence delivered to them by Gaga.
Gaga, ushered away by another body guard, is visibly perturbed by Cooper’s death. In her quest to beguile the despot, she has developed real feelings for him.
The Tsar has been deposed. But at what cost? The love of Gaga’s life? Her own conscience and identity? The suffering of her people?
One revolution begets another.
A final dictatorial salute. Long live Bradley!