Lady Gaga, up close and personal
It was unimaginable, just a few years ago, to see one of pop music’s most enigmatic artists, Lady Gaga, garbed in less than her stunning, outlandish outfits. But, the eccentric singer-songwriter has eschewed her more bizarre costumes for more regular clothes and a natural look, a progression that reflects a more “open” phase in her career.
The Netflix documentary, “Gaga: Five Foot Two,” expounds on that time when the pop star—Stefani Germanotta, 31—embraced a less flashy path when she was making music for her studio album, “Joanne,” revealing many struggles that fans were not privy to.
In the docu that runs a little over an hour and 40 minutes, Gaga brings up her old feud with Madonna, who called her music “reductive” in a 2012 interview—finally addressing how puzzled she was with the veteran artist’s behavior, however briefly.
“It’s like a guy passing me a note through his friend,” said Gaga, describing the older pop icon’s criticism.
We also see a more stripped-down Gaga, in one scene, literally, as she is shown topless while discussing plans with other women, while relaxing on her lawn.
She has no qualms about showing some skin, that lack of inhibition emphasized again when her thong-clad backside is quickly glimpsed in another scene.
“Gaga: Five Foot Two,” directed by Chris Moukarbel, succeeds in making the pop star more human, her vulnerability repeatedly showcased whenever she discusses physical pain resulting from a hip injury, as well as her loneliness after the deafening ruckus of her routines.
And, like Katy Perry in the 2012 docu “Part of Me,” the embattled singer is also shown dealing with heartbreak—Gaga and actor Taylor Kinney called off their engagement prior to the filming of “Five Foot Two.”
So, there’s a deft focus on her as an exceedingly authentic person, dealing with both searing physical and emotional pain—she sobs a lot, hugs people at work and her fans easily, and opens up about her life candidly—who knew she had this much drama going on, when she consistently put on a brave, stoic face for her more flamboyant acts?
Not surprisingly, Gaga is presented as a consummate professional. Snippets of her powerful acoustic version of “Bad Romance” at The Rainbow Room, as well as footage of her recording for her “Joanne” album, exemplify her distinguished musical talent and artistry.
The documentary doesn’t paint the pop star as a diva, but it does show her having “a mini-meltdown”—on the set of “American Horror Story.” It also covers the creative process of the singer, who also had to deal with the unexpected, premature release of her album due to a leak.
Aside from her distress, “Gaga: Five Foot Two” showcases her considerable triumphs, including her acclaimed performance at this year’s Super Bowl. Her mystique may be different, but the docu deftly demonstrates that Lady Gaga also fascinates with her fragility and fortitude.