Lady Gaga’s documentary Gaga: Five Foot Two by director Chris Moukarbel (Banksy Does New York, Me at the Zoo) premiered at the TIFF earlier this month and it’s now available on Netflix worlwide. The film lets the audience glance into Gaga’s personal life and her journey through writing, recording and releasing Joanne, her latest and most personal album to date; and also as she prepares for her Super Bowl halftime show performance.
If you’re not a “little monster” (if you don’t know what that means, then you’re certainly not one) or haven’t followed Lady Gaga’s career closely, when you hear her name, you might only think of extravagant outfits, catchy songs and all of the gossip and rumours that orbit around her. But there’s so much more to her than that, as there is to anyone in the public eye and as famous as she is. Gaga: Five Foot Two will allow you to see the person behind the performer, her struggle with physical and psychological pain caused by lupus, the emotional toll that took writing an album through her family’s history and the death of her aunt (who she took the name for the album from as a tribute) at a young age due to the same autoimmune disease. “I wrote Joanne to heal me and find strength to power through everything, with determination I learned from my Italian immigrant family”, she wrote on a letter dedicated to her fans.
It was nice to see a Gaga up close and personal, stepping away from the glamour and eccentricity we are used to. She shares her thoughts on love, success, relationships, fans and family; and how she seems to never be able to have it all at the same time. How fame can be isolating and feeling alone despite being surrounded by people most of the time. She even discusses how she feels about Madonna and the occasion when the queen of pop called her “reductive” in an interview. The audience gets to witness some of Gaga’s highs and lows in a kind of voyeuristic way that feels almost intrusive.
Gaga: Five Foot Two is a well-structured and entertaining documentary, which I’m sure will be even more appreciated by her fans. It shows her growth as and artist and her maturity as a woman. It is rare to see someone with her celebrity status strip her emotions like that when the camera is rolling and display her vulnerability in front of anyone who is willing to watch. It takes courage and it also takes a director who understands the purpose of it and knows which path to follow in order to deliver the intended message without getting lost in the process.
You might believe that Gaga: Five Foot Two is a publicity strategy to increase record sales or a film portraying a genuine artist; I believe the latter. If you haven’t listened to Joanne yet, by the end of the documentary you will want to put on your headphones and do it; and if you have, you’ll listen to it with different ears.