As moviegoers, there are certain things we’ve come to expect from concert documentaries. There’s almost always a ton of grueling rehearsal footage. Old home videos revealing how a performer was destined for fame. And then maybe one emotional scene in which the pop star breaks down, meant to indicate that stars really are just like us.
But that’s not the case with “Gaga: Five Foot Two,” which had its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival on Friday night. For one thing, Lady Gaga doesn’t cry just once in the film — she has tears streaming down her face for a good portion of the movie. And the film — which you’ll be able to see for yourself Sept. 22 on Netflix — isn’t really a concert doc.
Directed by Chris Moukarbel, the film trails the Grammy-winner in the year leading up to the release of her October 2016 album, “Joanne.” And she’s dealing with a lot.
Her relationship with her then-fiancé, Taylor Kinney, is unraveling. A hip injury she suffered a few years back is flaring up and causing her debilitating pain. One of her closest friends is battling cancer. She’s filming a role on “American Horror Story” and beginning preparation for the remake of “A Star Is Born.”
Oh, and did we mention she’s getting ready to perform at the Super Bowl halftime show?
It’s a lot. So for all of you Little Monsters who can’t wait to see the 31-year-old in this unvarnished state, here are some moments we expect everyone to be buzzing about after the premiere tonight.
Oh, and be sure to follow the Los Angeles Times in coming days, because we were the only ones to sit down with her one-on-one at the festival.
1. The Madonna beef
It’s no secret that Madonna isn’t the biggest fan of Gaga. The 59-year-old once said she felt the younger pop star “blatantly ripped off” her song “Express Yourself” in “Born This Way.” In the doc, Gaga addresses the feud, saying she doesn’t have a problem with what Madonna said — rather, the fact that she never said it to her face. “She wouldn’t look me in the eye and tell me that I was reductive or whatever,” Gaga says, admitting she learned about the diss while watching television. “Telling me you think I’m a piece of ... through the media? It’s like a guy passing me a note through his friend.”
2. Her chronic pain
In 2013, Gaga was forced to cancel dates on her “Born This Way Ball” tour to have surgery on her broken hip. Though she’s discussed the injury before, it’s only in the film that we see the extent of her pain. She still suffers muscle spasms as a result of the accident, which cause her to feel pain from her hip to her face. It often gets so bad that she has multiple people rubbing her muscles and putting ice on her while she sobs hysterically. In one scene, things get so bad that she looks forlornly at the camera and asks through tears: “Do I look pathetic?” questioning how she’ll handle the pain of childbirth. “I’m so embarrassed.”
3. Her breakup with Taylor Kinney
From the first scene of the movie, it’s evident that Gaga’s relationship with the “Chicago Fire” actor is in trouble. “Me and Taylor are fighting, so that sucks,” she says while cooking chicken in her kitchen. “My threshold for ... with men is just — I don’t have one anymore.” She goes on to write “Million Reasons” about him, and after they split, she alludes to the fact that she often gets into relationship trouble right when her career is soaring. (She and Kinney broke up after she landed “A Star Is Born.”) Still, the two don’t seem to be on bad terms: She is shown receiving flowers from him on the day of her Super Bowl performance.
4. Her breasts
Sure, Gaga is no stranger to showing off her body — she often sports booty shorts and crop tops and has posed for plenty of revealing photo shoots. But in one scene in the doc, Gaga is completely topless by her pool while having a discussion with her creative team about her wardrobe for the “Joanne” tour. None of her colleagues bats an eye.
5. Her work ethic
Despite her immense fame, Gaga never comes off as a diva in the film — though she does lose her cool a couple of times. On the set of “American Horror Story,” she’s doing a unique accent, and the director keeps asking for more takes. Frustrated, she tells him she has a lot of other things going on and urges him to be direct about his issue so they can move forward quickly. “If it’s the dialect ... tell me,” she says. Months later, during Super Bowl rehearsals, she gets upset when she learns the lining on one of her performance jackets has been changed without her knowledge. She explains that even a small change like that could throw off her timing, giving us a sense of just how meticulous she is about her routines.
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