Weekly Review: Gaga – Five Foot Two (2017)

This documentary follows Lady Gaga through the release of her album Joanne, preparation for her Super Bowl Halftime performance and her emotional and physical struggles.

Gaga: Five Foot Two has gotten quite a bit of buzz since its Netflix release on September 22, 2017. It’s been received pretty well by critics. Five Foot Two is described as a raw, uncut look at Gaga and her life off the stage, specifically using the word “unfiltered.”

I consider myself a fan of Lady Gaga. I always have. Despite my fan status, I’m not a big enough fan to know the details about her social life. For this reason, there were things within this documentary that I did not know. There were events where the significance of said event went over my head.

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In spite of this, the production of the documentary kept me following along with the story that was being woven. I appreciate the varied use of silence to emphasize Gaga’s loneliness. I appreciate the fast edits that worked to show Gaga’s hectic lifestyle. I appreciate the cinematic shots that were used to detail the life of this rock star.

Today’s society makes it difficult to create documentaries like this. With paparazzi and 24 hour news coverage, there really isn’t much about celebrities that’s kept a secret anymore. Social media presence allows celebrities to create a personal relationship with fans on their own time. Raw, uncut documentaries don’t have the same allure as they used to.

Gaga: Five Foot Two is not unfiltered. It is as much a perfectly handcrafted PR move as anything before, and it definitely feels that way. Lady Gaga is choosing to show this side of herself in an attempt to support the new, stripped down version of herself. This isn’t a bad thing. I think the documentary is very well done.

For example, my favorite part is when Lady Gaga goes strolling into a Walmart, intending to buy a couple copies of her new album Joanne (as a publicity stunt). Her album isn’t with the newly released music so she starts asking employees where the album is. None of the employees immediately recognize her and are unable to help her. When she finally finds her album, she forcefully puts it on the top row of new releases, knocking some others over in the process.

Soon after, employees and customers start to recognize her. Photo ops ensue. A bunch of people film Lady Gaga purchasing her album at the Walmart self checkout. The publicity stunt is accomplished.

This is just one example of how Five Foot Two intertwines a series of PR moves into one grand movement. It’s a year’s worth of reinvention on the behalf of Lady Gaga to ditch the glitz and glam of her previous image, and I think it’s really effective.

Throughout the documentary, she discusses disputes with previous producers and managers. She addresses her issues with Madonna. She describes her struggles with balancing life and love. She embraces a new sound to her music and a new image for herself. The audience sees her family life and her struggles with chronic pain.

It has the power to be iconic. I’m thinking it will be. I’ve seen comparisons to the 1990 documentary Madonna: Truth or Dare (ironic, isn’t it?). For someone with as much star power as Lady Gaga, I think this documentary really has the potential to be one of the great ones.

If you’re a hardcore fan of Gaga or a casual fan, Five Foot Two will probably be interesting for you. If you aren’t a fan and you watch this documentary, it may make you see her in a different light.

In any case, it’s a well done documentary which is now available on Netflix. I’d recommend giving it a shot.


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