Gaga's Five Foot Two: The Self-love Anthem No One Knew They Needed

21 January 2019

Lady Gaga’s personal shortcomings in this documentary read like a delicate love letter to her fans and those that have only been introduced to her through this Netflix special. From relationships to heartbreak, health risks, what being a woman in the music industry means, growing pains and everything in-between; Stefani Germanotta has never been more relatable.
While the documentary is centred around the production and rollout of her most recent album Joanne, we are brought back to the 2017 announcement of her starring role in Bradley Cooper’s film A Star is Born, her Super Bowl halftime show and her broken engagement with actor Taylor Kinney. These are all moments that do not reveal themselves as spoilers being that the real nugget of the film lies in how she deals with these events. Viewers can watch this with a sense of fulfilment and happiness for Gaga’s perseverance to continue being her unsolicited self amidst personal and professional strife.

Director and cinematographer Chris Moukarbel did not shy away from uncovering Gaga in her element. With two documentaries under his belt, he is no newcomer to the non-fiction scene. He humanizes Gaga by capturing her in every spectrum of emotion.
Close-ups without makeup and family montages are contrasted with clips of Gaga in “entertainer mode”, performing and signing autographs for thousands of fans. These visual juxtapositions of fast-paced scenes are amplified by a musical score that reflects the precariousness of Gaga’s lifestyle.
Moukarbel mimics the height of tension in these situations by boosting the audio then cutting immediately to silence, allowing the audience to find tranquillity alongside Gaga in bits of solitude. These simple scenes are effective in featuring how a person of power stays grounded in the spotlight.
Although with or without the music, Gaga’s wisdom erected from years of pain outshines the public presence that audiences are used to. Her powerlessness is one that each person is all too familiar with as we cry alongside her in most of this film.

Tearful monologues to the camera, to herself, to her family and to her fans are enough to corroborate the fact that she does not take fame for granted. Her honest opinions leave audiences feeling equally exposed to what she experiences as an artist.
Time has proven her efforts victorious, so it is especially poignant to witness the uncertainty of her life while watching this documentary a year later. Gaga shared the announcement of her starring role in Cooper’s film without comprehending the possibility that it would gather a total worldwide gross of over $300 million (USD), according to Forbes. In the same respect, she had no idea her interview with Stephen Colbert to promote the movie would instigate candid statements on Christine Blasey Ford’s testimony, attracting nearly 1.5 million YouTube views for that single clip. Little did she know this major starring role would also award her one of ELLE magazine’s Women In Hollywood, provoking an emotional acceptance speech that touched on her documentary’s same themes of mental health and self-care.

The perseverance to continue being herself is rewarded in love that is wholeheartedly reciprocated by her family, friendships, colleagues and, most especially, her fans. She walks with both grit and gratitude. Rightly so, Gaga does not settle for anything less than what she deserves and the documentary is a reflection of these high expectations. There is no question as to why people would have been - and still are - obsessed.
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