2017 | 1 hour 40 minutes | Dir. Chris Moukarbel | Netflix
Gaga: Five Foot Two follows Lady Gaga as she records her album Joanne, performs at Super Bowl LI and battles chronic pain. Director Chris Moukarbel goes to painful lengths to make sure we feel Gaga’s pain. Sadness permeates Gaga: Five Foot Two. That very dramatic Bulgarian song does not help.
Lady Gaga lost her fiancee, actor Taylor Kinney. She has fibromyalgia. Her best friend has cancer. She’s writing an album about an aunt she never knew, who died at age 19. She’s reinventing herself as a Normal Girl. Nevertheless, she straps on her high heeled boots and keeps dancing.
The doc is Gaga’s attempt to “get personal” with fans, like she does on Joanne. It has a raw aesthetic, but don’t be fooled: Live Nation produced this and they want to sell you Lady Gaga. Her album, her movie (2018’s A Star Is Born, with Bradley Cooper). The biggest shock about Gaga: Five Foot Two is just how normal Lady Gaga already is. While Kanye and Drake are doing shit like this, Gaga is driving herself to work. She’s cooking herself breakfast. She’s going to a baptism. She’s visiting her grandma in an assisted living facility. She’s buying a giant bag of Halloween candy at Wal-Mart and eating it on her private jet. Celebrities! They’re just like us.
The documentary feels personal. At times, it feels invasive, like when Gaga’s dad leaves the room as Gaga plays her grandma Joanne‘s title track, or when a naked Gaga covers her tear- streaked face during one of her body spasms. It doesn’t always make Gaga look great, either. We see her having a mini- meltdown on the set of American Horror Story season 6 and berating her Super Bowl crew. She talks about Madonna while chilling in a parking lot:
“I’m Italian and from New York, so if I’ve got a problem with somebody, I’m gonna f*ing tell you to your face. I had to hear from the Internet that she thought I was reductive or whatever.”
Other than that, Gaga talks no trash.
Many shots show Gaga battling fibromyalgia. The singer traces her health problems back to a hip injury sustained during 2012’s Born This Way tour. Her condition both humanizes her and wears her out.
“I just think of other people that have maybe something like this that are struggling to figure out what it is and they don’t have the money to have somebody help them. I don’t know what I’d do if I didn’t have everybody here to help me.” she says.
I feel the doc missed two keys opportunities. First of all, Gaga has a charity, the Born This Way Foundation. Why don’t they help some of these other people with fibromyalgia? Second of all, her friend and Haus of Gaga manager Sonja’s battle with cancer was heartbreaking. I wish the film showed more of their relationship.
The film’s most triumphant moment comes at the very very end, when Gaga triumphantly celebrates her Super Bowl performance. We get a break from the shaky handheld for few seconds of classic music doc gold: sold- out stadiums, fans dancing, and Gaga singing “Diamond Heart”.
“I might not be flawless, but you know I’ve got a diamond heart,” she sings. Those lyric sums her up. Gaga is not Beyonce- level flawless, and she’s struggling, but she works as hard as the world’s toughest rock. She might not be flawless, but you know she’s got a diamond heart.