Pop stardom can be rough it seems. Sure, you’re famous and millions adore you but at the end of the day you can still try to be as human as possible. This is the hypothesis that Gaga: Five Foot Two poses to its audience, and succeeds in a few surprising ways while providing a human look at one of the world’s biggest pop stars.
You’d be hard pressed to find someone who doesn’t know who Lady Gaga is. Since her debut album The Fame released in 2008, she has continued to dominate pop charts right to this very day. In 2016 she allowed documentary filmmaker Chris Moukarbel to film her songwriting and mastering process of her critically acclaimed album Joanne all the way up to her performance at Super Bowl LI.
What we ended up with is a surprisingly human and intimate look at a pop icon that shows she feels just as we do. She has fears and doubts, desires to be liked, wants a family eventually, etc. Very rarely does a documentary about a musical artist present their subject in such a vulnerable light such as this one. In a heartbreaking scene, Gaga lies on a couch in pain from a hip injury a few years back. This is where she reveals that she fears childbirth due to the permanent damage done to her body, a very real fear that many women face due to life altering injuries. Whereas most music artist documentaries can sometimes feel like glorified commercials for said artists’ albums, it’s moments like these where Gaga: Five Foot Two shines.
Her writing process for Joanne proved to be a challenge for her. The album proved to be the antithesis for everything that Lady Gaga was known for at that point in her career. Gone were the infectious pop beats and flamboyant outfits. This time Gaga wanted to present something more intimate and personal. In were rock and country influence and a more subdued colour palette and wardrobe. This was Gaga at her purest form and she was ready to present who she truly was to the world, flaws and all. She expresses fear that her fans and audience will turn on her over her new image and direction, a fear that is personally relatable to me as I myself struggle with acceptance and rejection; so this hit exceptionally hard.
Gaga blew away the world with her performance at Super Bowl LI. In what is arguably the best performance since Prince made his mark in NFL history, Gaga literally soared to new heights in a stage presentation that was second to none. Below the surface though she was nervous. Was she going to pull off her ambitious ideas? Would people be into her unconventional ideas for such a prestigious performance? Would she have fun? She shows doubts as well as confidence in backstage footage showing her rehearsing through her pain. She’s not in this for the fame or glory, she’s in this because she genuinely wants to perform and create art. A rare sight into today’s fame obsessed climate.
Though she wouldn’t break into the film world until 2018’s A Star is Born, Lady Gaga was already shining bright before then in this humanising, vulnerable look at what goes on behind massive stardom and the creative process. A place where fear, self doubt, and the desire to be adored can impact art in ways we don’t expect. Gaga: Five Foot Two provides that look in a massively underrated documentary that serves as a fantastic companion to not only Joanne but also A Star is Born. Though her latest album Chromatica was delayed due to the Coronavirus outbreak, I can’t wait to see what Lady Gaga has to present to the world next. She may be five foot two, but she has never stood taller in my eyes.
Gaga: Five Foot Two is now streaming on Netflix in the UK and US.
by Reyna Cervantes