Gaga: Five Foot Two (2017) ☆☆☆(3/4): Gaga the entertainer

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Although I do not know much about Lady Gaga, I found that Netflix documentary film “Gaga: Five Foot Two” is an interesting behind-the-scenes documentary about one of the most popular entertainers in the world at present. Although I was a bit disappointed that it does not delve deep much into its subject, there are some nice moments of admirable frankness, and I did come to appreciate Lady Gaga’s undeniable talent and her radiating star quality.

The documentary begins with Gaga beginning another day at her big house in California, where she resides along with her entourage. It is around 2016, and we soon see her going to a recording studio and then working on her fifth album “Joanne” along with others including her producer Mark Ronson. While taking a break, she has some frank conversation with one of technicians working in the studio, and we get an amusing moment when she expresses some bitterness toward Madonna, who does not appreciate her much although they are similar to each other in many aspects. Besides being very talented, both of them are known well for being bold and daring in public, and it can be said that Gaga is the rightful successor to Madonna considering that.

Gaga comes to us as a gentle woman of unadorned frankness and forthright attitude, and there is a notable moment when she talks with a couple of creative directors beside the swimming pool of her Californian residence. Because she wants to be a little more comfortable, she takes off her swimsuit while talking with them, and she does not seem to mind at all even when her bare breasts happen to be captured by the camera. Nothing feels particularly awkward on the screen, and she and others keep discussing about what new direction she will have to take for her ongoing career.

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Like many other American pop artists, Gaga has tried acting during recent years, and we see her working on the set of “American Horror Story: Roanoke”, the sixth season of TV series “American Horror Story”. I watched her previously appearing in “American Horror Story: Hotel”, and all I can tell you is that, though she is not exactly a great actress, she does have charisma to draw our attention. In fact, I sincerely wish that precious quality of hers will be utilized well in her upcoming film with Bradley Cooper, which is another remake of “A Star is Born” (1937).

We also meet Gaga’s family when they gather together for a family event, and we get a little more information about her family when she later visits her grandmother. We come to learn that one of the songs included in “Joanne” is inspired by Gaga’s aunt who struggled with illness during her short life, and the moment when Gaga plays the song to her grandmother is the most heartfelt moment in the film.

The documentary also pays considerable attention to Gaga’s chronic pain caused by fibromyalgia. She often needs to be massaged by her therapist before beginning her daily routine, and we see how much difficult it is for her to deal with this frequent physical pain. At one point, she cannot even get up from her couch while becoming quite moody, and that took me back to when I suffered from a sudden acute pain in my hip for a few days early in this year. I felt lots of pain whenever I moved, so I preferred to stay in my bed, and that certainly affected my mood a lot until the pain eventually went away.

Meanwhile, her status as a celebrity entertainer keeps demanding a lot from her as usual. Whenever she goes out, there is always a big bunch of paparazzi and her fans, and the documentary gives us a series of dizzy moments to reflect that swirling frenzy surrounding her fame. While it is surely difficult for her to maintain her integrity under such a condition like that, Gaga always moves forward with confidence, and she is also very nice to many of her eager fans out there.

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And, above all, she does her best whenever it is time to perform. At a party celebrating Tony Bennett’s 90th birthday, she gives a sincere performance for Bennett, and I was reminded of how awesome she was when she performed her Oscar-nominated song “Til It Happens to You” at the Academy Awards ceremony early in last year. When “Joanne” is released shortly after a rather unlucky incident, she gives a nice public performance for her fans, and the album turns out to be another success in her growing career.

The last part of the documentary is devoted to her Super Bowl LI halftime performance early in this year, and we get some glimpses into her preparation process. We observe her discussing with others on her costumes and choreography, and then we watch her doing some practice along with dancers. After their last full rehearsal, there eventually comes that big day in question, and she does not disappoint her audiences at all.

“Gaga: Five Foot Two” is directed by Chris Moukarbel, who did a competent job of presenting his subject well on the screen. Although I wish the documentary could have been more focused in its narrative, Gaga, who is incidentally one of the producers of the documentary, always holds our attention even during her most casual moments, and she is indeed an interesting entertainer to observe, though I had an impression that she does not show all about herself in this documentary. I guess that is the job of other documentaries to come in the future, and I recommend this documentary with some reservation.

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