I’ve never known what to think of Lady Gaga. I wasn’t sure whether to love her or hate her. The extravagant costumes, the strange, but well-made music videos…the meat dress! I wanted to get a deeper understanding of who she was, especially after learning about her struggles with Fibromyalgia.
Directed by Chris Mourkabel, Gaga: Five Foot Two follows the singer during the production of her album Joanne and the Superbowl Halftime Show. The film gives us a chance to look back on her incredible career. But it also gives us an intimate portrait of her personality, personal worries and fears.
I will be completely honest. I am not the biggest fan of music documentaries. Part of me feels these films can be used as a marketing tool instead of an honest character portrait. This may or may not true for Five Foot Two, but I think it gives viewers a chance to see Gaga at her most vulnerable; something, not all artists allow their fans to see.
Following a serious hip injury, Gaga has been dealing with Fibromyalgia. It’s one of the recurrent themes throughout the film. This is no surprise because when you have chronic pain, it affects every part of your life. I found it fascinating to see how someone who works incredibly hard putting on countless performances goes through life with a disease like this.
There is a scene where she is crying because of the intense spasms in her body. Although there is a whole team present to comfort her, she is still in excruciating pain. It’s a poignant reminder that conditions like fibromyalgia do not discriminate. At the same time, I appreciate her awareness of how lucky she is to be able to afford the help she gets.
We get a look into Gaga’s life while she’s finishing her fifth studio album, Joanne. The album was named after her aunt who had Lupus. This was back in the 70s. Treatment was nowhere near as good as it is now and in Joanne’s case, this led to the amputation of her hands. Unfortunately, the disease claimed Joanne’s life which prompted Gaga to dedicate her album to her. In the film, there’s a beautiful moment where she plays the title song to her grandmother and father. It’s easily the most powerful moment of the film.
I enjoyed Gaga: Five Foot Two. I don’t think it’s a groundbreaking documentary. In terms of structure and style, it doesn’t break the mould. Nonetheless, I applaud it for showing the realities of life with a chronic illness. I think it’s great that a huge star like Lady Gaga allowed us in to see her at some of her lowest moments. Just like Gaga, most people with the chronic illnesses deal with this in private. And I think this lack of knowledge makes it easy for wider society to underestimate the hold this has on people’s lives. Seeing a woman who is at the top of her career go through this may change perspectives.
Gaga: Five Foot Two is streaming on Netflix.