Reader, let me warn you before you journey further into this article — if you haven’t seen “A Star is Born” and you don’t want anything to be spoiled, stop reading now.
Okay, so the rest of you have now tacitly complied to have the ending of “A Star is Born” spoiled for you: if you get upset it’s not my fault.
Over fall break, I spontaneously went with some friends to watch this highly anticipated movie. Starring Lady Gaga as Ally and Bradley Cooper as Jackson Maine, the movie features two lovers whose relationship meets a tragic end.
“A Star is Born” is Cooper’s directorial debut, and he also worked as a writer and producer of the film. Suffice it to say, this remake is his passion project.
I went into the movie expecting some thrilling vocals from Gaga, a decent performance from Cooper, and maybe one or two tear-jerker moments. What I received instead was a face sopping wet with tears as the lights came up.
It was fascinating — when we first entered the theater, it was mainly filled with either 20-somethings or high school students, most likely drawn to the movie because of their interest in Gaga. A couple of boys behind us were vaping and openly giggling during the first few scenes of the film. Some girls in front of us were texting. But as the movie progressed, the chatter faded. By the end of the movie, the theater was dead silent. When the lights came up, I noticed that those two boys in the back had similarly wet faces.
So you may ask, what happened in the film that could cause such a reaction? I’ll be brief — and this is the spoiler — Jackson commits suicide in the last 10 minutes of the film. The whole sequence of him essentially deciding to commit suicide and saying goodbye to all his loved ones is heartbreaking. There’s a scene involving his dog (who you care for so much throughout the movie) that really sent my tears into overdrive. They didn’t stop until the movie was over.
What happened at the end of the movie is dramatic and, some would say, triggering. It’s not an easy issue to deal with — Jackson struggles with alcohol and drug addiction the whole film. The viewer wants so badly for him to get better. And when he commits suicide, the viewer almost feels as left behind as the bereft Ally herself.
My thoughts on the movie are complicated. It wasn’t perfect, but it was entertaining. Maybe I felt it wasn’t the best movie to expose people to such a heavy topic. At times, my secondhand embarrassment was so strong I couldn’t look at the screen for minutes at a time.
But I think the film’s most important impact was its ability to flood me with real emotion. I think that one of the most powerful things media can do is incite genuine emotion in people — an exercise in our own humanity. And those strong emotions only come out when we’re confronted with drastic moments. Some of the best art evokes scenes of great tragedy and loss, like Pablo Picasso’s Guernica.
Truly powerful art cannot be denied. It affected everyone in my theater, and in all the reviews I’ve read and listened to, they too have been impacted. Powerful doesn’t mean perfect. Plenty of flawed pieces can still make you feel.
These emotions increase your capacity for empathy. They open you up to new emotions and experiences that you may never be able to encounter personally because you would never be in that situation.
So, reader, when you enter a movie theater or start reading a book, truly open yourself up. Lay out your heart for the art — if it is truly powerful, what you’ll feel will be worth it.