Lady Gaga shares it all in documentary Gaga: Five Foot Two
Lady Gaga impressed last year with her more stripped down and country inspired, personal album Joanne. This musical change of direction also meant a change of image. It is hard to imagine the Lady Gaga we saw in 2009’s ‘Bad Romance’ video is the same person as the girl in the simple white t-shirt and hot pants we get to see in Gaga: Five Foot Two, a documentary about the pop star released on Netflix on the 22nd of September. Is this the first time we get to see the real Lady Gaga?
Gaga: Five Foot Two follows Stefani Germanotta during a turbulent period in her life. We see her road to releasing the Joanne album, her preparations for the spectacular Super Bowl halftime performance, but also the struggles with her health, her break from fiancé Taylor Kinney and finding a balance between the madness of being a pop star and the search for peace in her private life.
Of course Gaga is not the first pop star to document a period of her life behind the scenes and the question always remains how far they dare to go to show their most vulnerable moments. I think it is fair to say that director Chris Moukarbel could go all the way, with a very personal and sometimes worrying portrait of a super star. We not only see her in intense pain when body spasms take the best of her, but the constant pressure she is under is visualized in a striking manner. The isanity of it all is shown when we see the constant presence of fans and paparazzi when Gaga leaves a building, cutting to the moment the car doors close and Gaga puts her boots on the dashboard and sighs: “silence”. The fallouts the perfectionist Gaga has with the people she works with are shown, not trying to portray her as a perfect idol, but as a person who can snap under pressure.
Another important part of Gaga: Five Foot Two is the strong ties with her family. As you might know she dedicated her Joanne album to her aunt who passed away at the age of 19. The scene in which her grandmother hears the title track for the first time sure is one of the most endearing and moving moments of the movie and truly shows, how cliche it may sound, the true power of music. The musical editing of the documentary is excellent with a beautiful piano version of ‘Bad Romance’ as well as Gaga passionately rocking out in the studio to ‘Ayo’, all building up to her Super Bowl performance.
Lady Gaga and Moukarbel did not shy away from showing how conscious she is about her career, public perception of her image and what her fans think. She explains how for the first time in her life she feels good enough to sing her heart out with her hair tied back without the wigs and costumes. This however does not mean that Gaga has got it all under control these days. After her break from Taylor Kinney she breaks down and admits how scared she is of being alone, admitting that she can’t have it all. When her career is going great, her love life is going off track and the other way around.
The struggles we see her have with her health about a year ago are even more poignant when we learn that a year later she had to postpone her European tour because of the same issues. “I am a woman struggling now instead of a girl struggling”, she summarizes her personal growth over the past few years and the situation she still is in. Gaga: Five Foot Two is an impressive portrait of the growth of a pop icon who sometimes does not deal well with the pressure and insanity of her life, but does not compromise her passion for music.