SPOILER WARNING: Major parts of the plot are discussed in the following review.
If you haven't heard about this movie remake, the story line focuses on the rocky relationship between Jackson and Ally. Ally works two jobs: singing at a drag bar and working as a waitress. She attempts to get record deals but is always denied for being unattractive to producers. Jackson, also referred to as Jack, is an extremely popular country singer. Jack had a rough past growing up and looks towards getting drunk and high to deal with his childhood trauma. His mom gave birth to him when she was a teen and died during labor. His father was an alcoholic who died when Jack was thirteen, so Jack's older brother raised him.
One night, they meet at the drag bar when a drunk Jack is introduced to Ally by some drag queens. Jack asks Ally if he can buy her a drink, and she agrees to have a drink with him. Now at a cop bar where Jack can attend without being bombarded by fans, they have a conversation on Ally's singing abilities. Ally shares that she has tried to make songs with record labels but gets denied due to having a big nose that music producers find unattractive. Jack exclaims his infatuation with Ally's nose and asks for her consent to touch it. This moment is wholesome and reoccurs throughout the film as a "thing" between the two. It helps Ally build up her confidence. However, an obnoxious drunk arrives shortly after this moment and asks Jack for a picture to send to his ex. Jack remains calm, but Ally gets in the drunk's face and throws a punch at him. Jack simply carries Ally out of the bar. She unnecessarily resorted to violence in attempt to let out her anger towards the drunk character. Though she does not show violent tendencies through the remainder of the movie, this was a red flag that she may not deal with her feelings in the best ways.
Later, Jack invites Ally to one of his shows across the country, but she rejects his offer due to having to work. Jack sends one of his personal drivers to Ally's house in persistent efforts to get her to his show. When Jack's driver arrives on Ally's doorstep, Ally exclaims, "If I didn't know Jack, I'd call you a stalker." The driver does not leave Ally alone, so she finally decides to quit her day job to fly to Jack's show. This stuck out as the first major red flag in Jack's endeavors to get with Ally. It becomes clear that Jack does not like to take "no" for an answer when he later forces Ally on stage to sing a song she wrote after she already said she did not want to get on the stage. This manipulation may be seen as Jack helping Ally step out of her comfort zone and further propel her career, but the unhealthy coercion led by Jack should not be dismissed simply because some fortune arose from these events. Jack rides the line between giving positive encouragement of stepping out of one's comfort zone and pure coercion into doing things one does not want to do. His intentions do not seem malicious, so he might not be aware that his pressuring behavior may be toxic.
Ally soon blows up and signs with a record company after singing with Jack on stage for many shows. She transforms from a humble singer who writes her own meaningful lyrics into more of a pop sensation with typical lustful lyrics. Jack eventually confronts Ally about her new lyrics "Why'd you come around me with an a** like that?" He admits that he feels as if maybe he failed her, because she's embarrassing. Ally starts yelling at him claiming he's so embarrassed of himself that he has to put her down. Jack mumbles that he isn't enough for her, so she has to seek approval from others through her fame. They began to argue and take jabs at each other's insecurities. Ally crosses the line when she jokes about being Jack's drinking buddy in place of his alcoholic father. Jack immediately says, "You couldn't be my dad if you f***ing tried. He had more talent in his f***ing finger than you have in your whole f***ing body." Even after Jack tells her she crossed the line, she continues to make fun of his drinking problems.
Ally is nominated for three Grammy awards and wins "Best New Artist." Once she steps onto the stage to receive the award, an obviously intoxicated Jack stumbles on stage while mumbling things about her winning. He makes it next to her while she recites her award speech but visibly relieves himself on stage and falls over. Once rushed off stage, Ally worriedly helps Jack wash off in the shower while she is in tears. Ally's manager, Rez, later chastises Jack saying he was embarrassing and made Ally look like a joke. Jack apologizes to Ally, yet continues to stay drunk and intoxicated on drugs throughout their relationship.
Jack seems supportive in the beginning of Ally's career. He gets her a record deal and buys her a piano to practice on at home. He gives her tips on singing meaningful lyrics, because she has a voice people will listen to. However, it is later dependent on interpretation to tell whether Jack becomes jealous and spiteful or simply worried and unsure about Ally changing once she gets a record deal. Regardless, there is a clear difference between the way Jack treats Ally before and after she receives the record deal. This seems to be the root of most of their arguments, along with Jack's addiction problems. They both lack in good communication skills and resort to arguing without calmly discussing how they feel. This sticks out to be the main source of toxicity in their relationship.
This movie portrayed an unhealthy relationship between Jack and Ally that most likely could have improved and grown into a healthier relationship if given more time. Though they both seemed to care deeply for each other, their communication skills needed work. Jack needed further help in his struggles with addiction before he could give his full love and support to Ally. Ally could have improved her understanding of herself and Jack's struggles.
It is important to note that every relationship can always grow and improve. Individuals should always work on themselves before rushing into relationships. This movie highlighted the significance of self love and care and the role proper communication has in all relationships.
*We received a free autographed copy of this book from the author for an honest review.
SPOILER WARNING: Parts of the plot are discussed in the following review. Direct quotations from the book are used.
This book follows Andrea’s journey through an abusive relationship with her boyfriend Josh. This book grabs the reader right away as the author describes feelings so real.
Readers get sucked into the internal turmoil of someone in an abusive relationship; the confusion, self-blame and fear. It helps readers understand why someone would stay; “…The wreckage I’d caused….walk back into the havoc and face what I had done.” “It was over for now, that latest incident, and there was no way to tell when there would be another one… but there would definitely be another one, I was too broken for it to be any other way.” “How could he still love me after this? He deserved better. Everyone did.”
Readers can also gain insight into how all abusive relationships start- just like any other: the attraction, attention, and affection from the partner. “It was exhilarating to be around Josh.” “No one had ever called me pretty before.” “I wanted to remember the way I felt right then…I felt insatiable, invincible…even Ethan said he’d never seen me so happy. I was different.”
Readers can spot the red flags before Andrea knows what is happening. “Even though I was enjoying myself, I couldn’t shake those odd intricacies that would pop up every once in a while…I felt a little uncomfortable, but mostly confused. I shrugged I off, reminding myself that everyone had their own idiosyncrasies, and this was just one of Josh’s.”
“I wanted to be a good girlfriend and it wasn’t worth arguing…I thought about the playlists, the cute text messages, and his affectionate behavior. And I reminded myself how lucky I was to be with such a sweet, vivacious guy. I could overlook something like this for the good of our relationship. So I told myself it would be all right, that everything would be okay. But it was never okay again.”
Readers cringe at the escalation of verbal, physical and sexual abuse and want to save her as she is focused on saving the relationship. “My relationship had to be my first priority if I didn’t want to lose the only guy who might ever care about me.”
Andrea’s parents started noticing, her good friend Ethan and others started noticing. They try talking to her about him, but she was not ready to see the truth yet. When something went wrong, Andrea could not talk to anyone about it. “They’d just tell me to break up with him without understanding what the consequences would be if I made him really angry. Plus, I didn’t want them to look at Josh in only a bad light. I knew they weren’t’ crazy about him, and this would be the final straw. Josh wasn’t a bad guy. He just went through these angry episodes, and I knew that nobody else could understand him as I did. I would just have to fix this myself.”
Incidents began happening at school and just as in real life, the culture is to ignore the problems. Most people, even a teacher, did just ignore it. One friend, Stephanie confronts Andrea with her worries. Stephanie explains what she saw and how it made her feel and said she was worried. Andrea denies, Stephanie says she is here whenever. This is exactly the right way to handle it, you can’t force someone to listen or tell them they are stupid if they stay. Just be honest about what you saw and that it is not the victims fault and that there is help.
Our only complaint is that we wish Andrea wasn’t focused on another guy and that she could to learn to love herself through her own eyes.
We won’t give out any spoilers about how this ends. We will only say that this book was well written and accurately portrays teen dating abuse.
BRAVE Ambassadors run this Blog