Why A Star is Born is actually a film for men
ALL anyone can talk about right now is A Star is Born.
Or it feels that way, especially if you're a woman.
"What about the soundtrack!," my female friends have exclaimed.
"How about that shot of Ally at the end? That was heavy."
"Did you know Charlie is Bradley Cooper's real dog?"
Of course, all of these points are true and valid; they are pieces that have helped make the film a soaring box office success, and reasons women around the world have been flocking to cinemas in droves.
But largely absent from the word-of-mouth and social media posts about the film are men. And in the instance of this film, that's a problem.
As much as it is a movie about two people falling in love and ricocheting off one another amid the dizzying aspects of fame, at its core, A Star is Bornis also a story about trauma, addiction, and mental health. It asks if a man battered by the world from the moment he came into it can ever find a way up for air.
Which is precisely why more men need to go and see it.
As a recovered addict himself, it's surely no coincidence that Bradley Cooper selected this - a story of musician Jackson Maine (Cooper) falling in love with unknown singer Ally (Lady Gaga), who he helps rise to fame that then eclipses his own before his addiction and depression destroys it all - as his directorial debut.
Now sober for almost 13 years, Cooper has openly admitted that had he not sought treatment for his alcohol and drug abuse, and the depression that accompanied it, he would not be where he is today, professionally or personally.
In bringing those experiences to the screen, even in a fictionalised way, Cooper has opened up a conversation that we should be having more often.
The film's depiction of drug and alcohol abuse - far from the usual glamorised Hollywood affair of cocaine covered coffee tables and hallucinating montages - comes off as profoundly sad.
It shows drug and alcohol dependency as the isolating and shame-inducing experience many addicts know it to be.
The real tragedy of the film, though, comes from seeing what is destroyed in its wake.
The harrowing effects Jackson's decisions have on those he loves the most - his brother, his wife, his pet dog, his friends, his fans - are consequences not often shown with candour and rawness seen in A Star is Born, and as uncomfortable as it is, the time for it is right. Statistics about mental health, and drug and alcohol abuse show us that.
For many men, these issues go hand-in-hand. As mental health charity BeyondBlue details on its website: "Drug and alcohol use can both lead to, and result from, depression."
And leaving these untreated can be devastating. It's a tragically oft-repeated fact that in Australia, the rate of suicide is three times higher in men than it is in women. It has been for a long time.
According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, more than 3128 people died by suicide in 2017, 75 per cent of which were men. It is also estimated that a further 48,750 men attempted to take their lives during that same period.
Last year suicide was the leading cause of death for men aged between 15 and 44, and the second leading cause of death for those aged between 45 and 54.
ABS data also shows that alcohol-induced deaths are also substantially higher among men than they are among women, again, by almost three times the rate. The rates among drug abuse and drug-related deaths paint a similar picture.
So to write off A Star is Born off as simply a tear-jerker or "one for the ladies" is a huge mistake.
It's a film for everyone, but especially blokes.
Yes, you'll likely walk out of the cinema crying, and yes the soundtrack will rattle around in your head at all hours of the night even if you've never liked country music before in your life.
But it also leaves the reality of male depression - and what happens when it is left untreated - exposed in a profoundly uncomfortable way that requires those who see the film to consider it for long after.
Katy Hall is a writer and producer at RendezView. Follow her on Twitter at @katyhallway.
If you or someone you know is experiencing depression or addiction, help is available:
BeyondBlue: 1300 22 4636
Lifeline: 13 11 14