We Need More Films Like "A Star Is Born"

I recently had the opportunity to watch "A Star Is Born," starring Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper. What struck me most about this film was the honest manner in which mental illness is depicted, particularly through Cooper's character Jackson. Jackson struggles with alcohol dependency, drug addiction, and depression. Audiences are given insight into the nature of his upbringing, as well as other environmental factors that impact his mental state. Despite being a star in the public eye, one who seemingly has it all, this is far from the truth. Following his mental health journey is an emotional experience; audiences witness the verbal and nonverbal manifestations of his internal dialogue as he decides whether to confront or give into his vices. How Jackson is perceived by his inner circle, particularly Gaga's character Allie, also serves as a raw representation of the varying perspectives and stigmas attached to mental illness. Some of the movie's most jarring moments are the times when Jackson is still and silent, the pain of his struggle written all over his face. This movie is by no means an easy watch, as Cooper's character shows audiences the truth about mental illness; it is debilitating, isolating, and utterly painful. The low points are excruciating, and the good times are blissful but fleeting.

Nevertheless, illuminating the truth about mental illness in this way is a responsible approach to portraying it. As someone who struggles with mental illness, this movie resonated with my own experiences, ultimately reminding me and other audience members that we are not alone. Jackson emphasizes the importance of using one's platform in order to truly say something; "A Star Is Born" certainly says something in its deliberate decision to demonstrate the inner demons that we face. Jackson's music career is a testament to his devotion to telling his truth, regardless of how difficult the process proves to be. He reminds people that finding a healthy outlet is vital to healing, and that sharing the darker parts of yourself with other people can help lift the weight that you carry. Most of all, Jackson reminds us that self-perception and self-love, or lack thereof, can dictate much of our human experience. "A Star Is Born" initiates a thought-provoking conversation about mental illness, and though its content is heavy, this is essential because the world we live in today is full of people who need to see, understand, and empathize with the movie's themes. Struggling is human, and to conceal the way we feel is dangerous to our growth and prosperity. If we can be honest and open in how we struggle with mental health, dispelling problematic stigmas about mental illness in the process, then there is hope for our society yet.