I saw A Star is Born last night or should I say experienced it. The performances in the film were arresting in their emotional rawness and psychological complexity. How people can dig that deep and perform these heart-wrenching things, all with a camera and scores of people just feet away is astounding. I’m not sure if I saw the 1976 version with Barbra Streisand and Kris Kristofferson, but I may have. I was, after all, smuggled in the trunk to a drive-in showing of The Rose around the same time- oh the 70s! I understand that Babs gave Lady Gaga her blessing and they took a fabulous photo together, two women with strong noses and exceptionally deep talent, profiled in stardom. The film hit on many facets of love and how it can cut, create, and lead us down pathways that seem far beyond our control to navigate and make sense of.
I sat there beside my beloved Yoga teacher and friend Robin, in the dark, popcorn done, fully attentive to the drama unfolding on the screen, feeling so many powerful things. Addictions, people who harm themselves in other ways, the fierce desire to love just a bit harder to alleviate the suffering of those we love, it was all there. These are things I know, many of us do. Terese Marie Mailhot speaks about the embodied, soul-stretching effects of love in the aftermath of historical and interpersonal trauma in her memoir, called Heart Berries. She says something so strong in this small sentence: “My heart has an extra chamber now” (2018:104). That is how it feels when you go through so much hurt and healing. Whether you come out on ‘the other side’ or are still mired in the muck of it, you grow. We are so many plants, really, and animals, us humans. We’re made of liquid, events passed down through the cells of our ancestors, and our own voices that we are constantly shaping and grasping at the best we can.
It was humbling and there is a kinship that happens when you see the things you have experienced projected before you, as art and as something that is culturally valorized. I get all the buzz that surrounded the film earlier this year when it debuted at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF). We need more stories like this and not just stories but the courage to create on-going narratives and discussions, and actions geared toward the revealing and important work of healing in ways that are not just one-day or time-limited, “like”-directed events. The powerful response this film has received is very telling of our times. It’s not the first or even the second time this movie has been made, it’s the third incarnation. Love and pain are timeless human experiences, but it seems like we need to connect with them in particularly pressing ways that acknowledge and reflect our own journeys and those we share.
A star is born = a many-starred review!