Spoilers ahead for A Star Is Born.
As Awards Season slowly approaches, moviegoers should expect to see plenty of Oscar bait hitting theaters in the next few months. First up to bat was Bradley Cooper's directorial debut A Star Is Born, starring he and pop star turned actress Lady Gaga. A third remake of the classic tale, Cooper brought an emotionally devastating drama to audiences, but it looks like the ending was especially intense for New Zealand moviegoers.
A Star Is Born contains an emotional gut punch, as Bradley Cooper's Jackson Maine hangs himself in his garage during the third act. This sequence proved especially upsetting for New Zealand audiences, so literature is being distributed during screenings, containing a trigger warning about a suicidal scene. While potentially a major spoiler for the contents of the film, it's a change that New Zealand film classification board head David Shanks believes is necessary after complaints started rolling in.
David Shanks recently made a statement about this decision, saying:
Many people in New Zealand have been impacted by suicide. For those who have lost someone close to them, a warning gives them a chance to make an informed choice about watching.
This comment, which comes to us from The Guardian, helps to bring context to the New Zealand film classification board's decision. The film industry has become much more cognizant of how movies affect audiences, especially when it comes to sensitive subjects like suicide. And that's also the case in New Zealand specifically.
Jackson's suicide in A Star Is Born is truly harrowing, especially the way Bradley Cooper's direction brought the terrible event to life. The jaded rock star actually made a previous attempt on his own life as a young boy. This exposition is delivered as almost an anecdote by Jackson, but it becomes clear that the event stuck with him.
After believing he will ruin Ally's life and career, Jackson lives his final day. He says goodbye to his wife and adorable dog, and hangs himself in the garage in a silent and haunting sequence. It's undoubtedly hard to sit through, and brings the momentum and joy of Jackson's newfound sobriety to a screeching halt. It also leaves Lady Gaga's character despondent while mourning.
While no doubt triggering for many, Bradley Cooper's direction of A Star Is Born kept the event offscreen, which is both understated and arguably more powerful as a choice. Moviegoers were privy to the moments before and after Jackson took his own life, with his dog's distress echoing what audiences felt in that moment.
A Star Is Born is still in theaters now. Be sure to check out our 2019 release list to plan your trips to the movies in the New Year.