Lady Gaga is undeniably one of the world’s most famous and talented musicians, and now Netflix is bringing us a new behind-the-scenes documentary that looks at a year in the life of this celebrated icon. “Gaga: Five Foot Two” takes us inside the making of her fifth studio album (“Joanne”) and gives us an inside look at the making of her halftime performance for Super Bowl LI. There’s a lot we can learn about Lady Gaga from this important new Netflix documentary.
“Gaga: Five Foot Two” shows us Lady Gaga’s relationship with her fans
First and most importantly, this new Netflix documentary gives us an unprecedented look at Lady Gaga’s relationship with her tremendously devoted fan base. It is clear from this behind-the-scenes look at Lady Gaga that she really feeds off the energy and passion of her fans, and that’s why the fan encounters that “Gaga: Five Foot Two” depicts are so illuminating – they show us the character and persona of Lady Gaga. We see how she feels a unique burden to live up to the expectations of her fans – and also how these brief fan encounters are a way for her to energize and re-charge.
“Gaga: Five Foot Two” gives us an unforgettable look at the Super Bowl LI halftime show
Has there ever been a more iconic and talked-about Super Bowl halftime show in recent memory than the one featuring Lady Gaga in 2017? The way she stood on top of the stadium in Houston and dove to the stage, and then burst into her most popular songs ever – it was simply incredible. And so “Gaga: Five Foot Two” gives us the remarkable story of how the show was dreamed up, how it was executed, and why it was so meaningful to Lady Gaga to pull off such a career-defining performance.
“Gaga: Five Foot Two” gives the viewer a chance to learn about Gaga’s family
We often think of rock stars like Lady Gaga as being so absorbed in their music, tours, and entourage that they no longer have time for a real family. But that couldn’t be further from the truth for Lady Gaga, as “Gaga: Five Foot Two” makes clear. What quickly becomes clear from this documentary is that her family is what helped to make her such a strong person. There’s genuine love and affection, and we see that through each of her family members – Angelina Germanotta (the grandmother), Cynthia (her mother), Joe (her father) and Natali (her sister). The big moment, of course, comes when it’s time to unveil her new studio album, “Joanne,” which has special meaning for her and her family.
“Gaga: Five Foot Two” shows us the celebrities in Gaga’s life
We always knew that the world of Lady Gaga was wonderful and fabulous, and this new Netflix documentary gives us the briefest glimpse at the types of celebrities whom she interacts with on a daily basis – people like Florence Welch, Tony Bennett, and Donatella Versace.
And, where the documentary really covers new ground is in its exploration of Lady Gaga’s feud with legendary musician Madonna. Is this just one of those staged feuds in the music world for both people to benefit from the resulting PR buzz? Or is there a real reason for two of this generation’s top musicians to have animosity for each other? Those are just two of the questions that this Netflix documentary helps to answer.
“Gaga: Five Foot Two” is unfiltered “year in the life” saga
The documentary takes on a cinema vérité approach, showing us a real, unfiltered look at Gaga, her entourage, and her adventures. And we see that not everything is glamorous for this rock star. For example, part of the documentary deals with Lady Gaga’s physical problems, including her ongoing struggle with chronic pain. It’s not easy to be on tour for months at a time, or to carry out all of her high-energy performances, time and time again, and it’s clear that this performance lifestyle has taken a physical toll on our rock star hero.
And, as part of this “year in the life” saga (which some have compared to “Madonna: Truth or Dare”), we get to see some of the other creative projects in Lady Gaga’s life. For example, she is taking on a guest role in “American Horror Story: Roanoke” and this could be another way to tap into her immense and very unique talents. And, of course, she is always looking for ways to make her stage performances all the more stunning. What emerges from this documentary is the story of a much more nuanced, complex character than we might have assumed. For many of us, Lady Gaga is larger than life. But she is very human, with her own weaknesses and frailties.
“Gaga: Five Foot Two” has the narrative arc of a true documentary film
On the surface, it might be easy to dismiss Netflix’s “Gaga: Five Foot Two” as just a celebrity puff piece, just another tool in the PR toolkit to build out her worldwide fame and generate sales for her new album. But do you know what? This is a real documentary film, and as proof of that, it actually debuted at the very prestigious Toronto International Film Festival before starting to stream on Netflix.
That, perhaps, is what gives this 2017 documentary film such a sense of realism – it is not just a rough cut compilation of unrelated scenes. Instead, it follows a true narrative arc. Yes, it might have a lot of rapid-fire cuts, but that’s only to intensify the feeling that we are one of the world’s busiest and most active performers. Everything that Lady Gaga does is high energy, and this documentary tries to convey that.
To be sure, you will learn a lot about Lady Gaga in Netflix’s “Gaga: Five Foot Two.” You will meet her entourage and her family, you will see her encounters with her fans, and you will see the making of two wonderfully creative works – her new studio album “Joanne” and her Super Bowl LI halftime show. And, best of all, you will learn about Lady Gaga not just as a performer and creative artist, but also as a wonderfully talented individual with a fascinating story to tell.