's Five Foot Two
has reached worldwide acclaim after its release in September at Toronto International Film Festival with raving critics who've said it is "both intimate and painful." Directed by Chris Moukarbel in a typical cinema verity style, we are able to witness an unfiltered perspective of a year in the life of Lady Gaga, or Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta.
The film centres itself around the production and release of her most recent album, Joanne,
and her incredible Super Bowl LI halftime show. We witness Gaga at her most vulnerable, as she bares all truths about her fame, family, work, and chronic illness. Gaga: Five Foot Two
is a documentary that not only dissects the life of one of the greatest artists of the decade, but how women in the industry are scrutinized for their success. Gaga herself talks about her role as a female performer and how she has attempted to outwit her fans by separating her sense of self from her work.
Moukarbel's directing style is completely observational, Gaga remains in command at all times. Her confidence in accepting creative control ultimately allows her to dictate the final result, where she remains exposed but within a censored environment. She lets us see all aspects of herself, the good and the bad, as evident in her aggressive outburst during her super bowl rehearsal. She's never shy about showing her true self and maintains an attitude of strength in the face of constant hurdles. This becomes a theme for the film, where she continuously states how she broke boundaries in an attempt to define her image for herself, and to not "be put in that category."
Her references to feminine empowerment in the face of male producers gives a subtle insight into the industry and its treatment of women. She states how she "will not be a receptacle of your pain" as she attacks the patriarchal attitude she has had to endure her entire personal and professional life. These moments appear in the initial scenes of the documentary, setting the tone for the entire film. Gaga makes it clear that she is not dictated by anyone and her choices have been in spite of the men who told her to be "sexy pop." Instead, she continues to "put an absurd spin on it" as a way of demonstrating her creative freedom within an industry that predominantly inhibits women's success.
A major component to the film is her dealing with fibromyalgia, a medical condition where the body experiences chronic widespread pain. She states that she gets "body spasms because of her depression" and there is no known cure or treatment, she merely has to endure this incessant cycle.
The way the film tackles mental illness is unrestrained, evident in these heartbreaking moments where we watch her collapse into tears, whilst those around her attempt to sooth her pain. The strength she finds to go on comes from her late aunt, Joanne, whom the album is named after. Joanne was an artist who past away at age nineteen from Lupus, the story of her death is told during an interview with the New York Times
that evokes a deep sense of loss. The strong connection she has with this female role model further enhances the concept of feminine power within her music and her performances. One of the most beautiful scenes of the film is when Gaga plays the song "Joanne" for her Grandma. They sit in silence listening to the track off her phone; the reactions are sincere, revealing family suffering in dealing with the loss of a sister and daughter.
What makes this film different from any other documentary about a pop star, is Gaga's presence on screen. Her ability to acknowledge who she is as a performer of the extreme but simultaneously expose her true self, is what makes this film most intriguing. Her aim in this latest album is to expose the woman behind the outrageous Lady Gaga facades. Gaga: Five Foot Two
is a carefully constructed documentary that uncovers a rare view into the mindset and ambition of one of the world's most revered pop stars.