For the most part, A Star Is Born has received rave reviews and is seen as a strong Oscar contender. However, according to David Shanks, head of the New Zealand film classification board, the movie is also dangerous. The film was originally rated “M” in New Zealand, or “unrestricted, suitable for 16 years and over,” with a warning for “sex scenes, offensive language and drug use.” But after reports that two young viewers had been “severely trigged” by the scene in which Bradley Cooper’s Jackson Maine hangs himself, Shanks issued a statement condemning the omission, and the Office of Film and Literature Classification added “suicide” to the film’s list of content warnings.* The “M” rating and additional content warnings remain intact.
“Many people in New Zealand have been impacted by suicide,” Shanks said. “For those who have lost someone close to them, a warning gives them a chance to make an informed choice about watching.” While Cooper’s character’s suicide occurs off screen, the implicit act is a devastating focus of the film—no less worthy of an advisory than sex scenes or colorful language.
Correction, Nov. 9, 2018: This post originally misidentified the Office of Film and Literature Classification as the Office of Film and Literature.