Review: ‘Gaga: Five Foot Two’ looks at the soul behind Lady Gaga

Story by Wendy Anderson / Contributing Writer

The much-anticipated documentary about pop icon Lady Gaga hit Netflix Sept. 22. Titled “Gaga: Five Foot Two,” the documentary directed by Chris Moukarbel captures a stripped-down side of the singer’s life that fans don’t normally get to see — the real Stefani Germonatta. It displays the performer’s down-to-earth personality and intimately depicts her physical and emotional battles.

Early in the film we hear Gaga talk about fighting with ex-fiancé Taylor Kinney, saying “My threshold for bulls–t with men is, I just don’t have one anymore.” While her relationship struggled to stay together, we also see her deal with debilitating, chronic pain that stems from a previous hip injury. The director doesn’t hold anything back and lets the audience experience the raw emotion. Though it’s uncomfortable at times to sit and watch as she fights through the pain, it only brings the viewer closer to the star. You can’t help but feel empathy for her and develop a greater understanding for why she does certain things, like canceling tour dates.

Recently Gaga made headlines for having to postpone the European leg of her world tour due to chronic pain.  However, throughout the film we see Gaga push through her emotional and physical pain to continue doing her job. It’s inspiring to see her wrestle with all the turmoil in her personal life all while preparing for the Super Bowl halftime show and recording her latest album, “Joanne.” It makes you feel like if she can get through that, you can get through anything.

The singer’s pickiness for perfection is clearly displayed when we see her rehearsing for the halftime show, and it’s clear that she won’t settle for anything less than the highest standard to put on her best show. The same is true when it comes to recording music. It’s no surprise how she got to be such a huge name, and it’s a little intimidating to see how much work goes into everything she does.

We also get feminist undertones throughout the film, like when Gaga explains the frustration of being a female singer and having to deal with male producers in the past who don’t take her seriously. It’s empowering and humbling to hear that even the biggest stars still deal with the issues that affect our society, and it sheds light on how deep these societal issues run. However, there is hope in the music industry, as she finds that working with English DJ and producer Mark Ronson is a completely different and positive experience compared to her issues with past male producers. Ronson is seen working extensively with Gaga on the record. It’s reminiscent of how someone would interact with a best friend and is sweet to witness; he helps draw out her vulnerable side. You may even find yourself smiling and laughing through those scenes.

The film also goes into depth about Gaga’s aunt, whom the album is named for, and how her aunt’s death impacted her and her family. Strong emotions are evoked as she plays the song title track for her grandmother and asks, “Did I get it right?” We don’t often see celebrities interacting with their families, much less seeking approval from them. Seeing that side of her almost puts her in a childlike persona that is especially impactful to watch.

The album is dedicated to Gaga’s father and grandmother. Throughout the film we see how close the artist is with her family and friends, who are responsible for helping keep her grounded through her personal battles and high-profile career. As many of us can relate, we know that having a strong foundation of support is key in anything someone does. Not as relatable, however, is another source of support the artist can pull from.

Being as famous as she is, it’s no surprise that Gaga has a huge fan base adoringly referred to as “Little Monsters.” The documentary not only shows how massive of a following she has, but also how much people appreciate and relate to her music. One specific moment is shown where Gaga surprised a fan, and the pair shared a heartfelt moment in which the singer explained how much it means to have fans’ support. It’s heartwarming to see that her love for her fans isn’t just an act — it’s a mutually beneficial relationship. However, there’s a sharp contrast made extremely apparent by the end of this film.

Once the lights fade, the doors close and everybody goes home, what’s left is just a woman: Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta. You can’t help but feel the void she feels when she goes home at the end of the day to a quiet house.

This film is raw, emotional and will make you laugh and cry. Most importantly, it gives you a deep understanding of the person behind the persona.

More information about “Gaga: Five Foot Two” can be found here.

To contact Lifestyles Editor Tayhlor Stephenson, email lifestyles@mtsusidelines.com.

For more updates, follow us at www.mtsusidelines.com, on Facebook at MTSU Sidelines and on Twitter at @Sidelines_Life.

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