The tear-soaked documentary, Gaga: Five Foot Two, now streaming on Netflix, gives a glimpse of a tumultuous time in Lady Gaga’s life as she released her most personal album, suffered debilitating pain and prepped for the performance of a lifetime - the Super Bowl half-time show.
With these kinds of documentaries, the promise of a warts-and-all chronicle gets fans and gossipmongers equally excited.
So does Chris Moukarbel’s movie deliver the goods? More than most.
Gaga does a lot of crying while revealing a few new nuggets of information. Here’s a sampling:
* She suffers from constant, debilitating pain: We knew this much already from recent headlines: Lady Gaga postponed the European leg of her tour because of chronic physical pain. She’s been open in the past about her fibromyalgia, but this is the first time fans will see for themselves what she’s going through, and it really is awful to watch.
There are scenes in the movie when she’s writhing and sobbing as doctors or massage therapists or friends with large syringes try to ease her discomfort. She complains of full-body spasms, which she believes can be caused by depression, but she also has intense inflammation in her abdomen, and panic attacks, not to mention chronic pain in a hip she broke in 2013.
* Despite everything, she still admires Madonna. Or claims to, anyway: In 2015, Madonna sat down with Rolling Stone and complained that Lady Gaga had blatantly ripped off one of her songs. (You have to admit, Born This Way shares a lot in common with Express Yourself. Those songs are definitely more similar than Look What You Made Me Do and I’m Too Sexy - and Taylor Swift gave Right Said Fred a writing credit.)
Madonna wasn’t entirely harsh. She also said: “I do think she’s a very talented singer and songwriter. It was just that one issue.”
In the movie, Gaga addresses the beef, saying that, while she still admires Madonna, she wishes the singer had the courage to just come to her directly rather than going to the media. Gaga compares it to “a guy passing me a note through a friend”.
* She put a lot of thought into her image make-over: Gaga decided to change her look during the lead-up to her album, Joanne, which was named after her father’s sister, who died at 19 from complications related to lupus. While doing publicity for past records, she was usually glammed up in crazy couture, but she wanted to be more stripped down for her new music. So she ditched the fancy dresses for a uniform of T-shirts and jeans or shorts. Her hair and make-up also tended to be more natural.
Part of it was a reflection of her new album, but it was also to keep people guessing. That much was clear during her initial meeting about the Super Bowl performance. She told her team that she wanted to do something that was the opposite of what people expected.
Viewers were going to assume she would show up with an army of shirtless men carrying her in on a throne while she wore a meat dress. Instead, she descended from the ceiling and donned a costume that looked like bedazzled football pads.
* During a video shoot, the make-up artists can get very intimate: When you’re dressed in short-shorts, underbutt needs make-up, too, apparently.
* Like most people, Lady Gaga struggles to find balance in her life: When one part of the singer’s life is going well, another part is tanking. Sound familiar? During filming, for example, she’s doing extremely well professionally - she just landed the Super Bowl gig, after all. But her engagement to Taylor Kinney has just ended, which is the latest in a trend: every time her career hits a new high, her current romantic relationship falls apart. She also talks about the strange dichotomy of being surrounded by people all the time - all the flashbulbs and fans, vying for selfies and autographs - while also feeling incredibly lonely.
* She brings multitasking to a new level: She has her make-up done while simultaneously undergoing a procedure at her doctor’s office. She also practices her keyboard while getting her hair done.
* She cares about how her album is displayed in stores: At one point, Gaga goes to Walmart and complains about how few copies of Joanne are on display.
So she takes matters into her own hands and rearranges things, placing a copy of her CD at the front of each row for maximum exposure. She even buys a couple of copies to take home. Hey, when you’re trying to hit No1, every sale counts, right? -