25 September 2017 | Miles-10
My Real Intro to Lady Gaga
I knew unbelievably little about Lady Gaga before seeing this documentary.
I knew that she wears elaborate costumes that sometimes make her look equal parts regal and ridiculous and that she has a gorgeous singing voice. I did not even know that she is an American (from New York City) and an earthy person in her private life. The first scene in this movie shows her as she looks when she gets out of bed and feeds her dogs. She is more how I would have imagined that her personal assistant might look.
Basically, a camera crew follows her around for possibly longer than we know. It is a good thing not to feel as if we are with her in real time because this doc may have followed her for many months.
The word exhibitionist might be a bit strong, but little of Gaga's anatomy is left to the viewer's imagination. We also meet the inner Lady Gaga (nee Stefani Germanotta) learning that she is affectionate with her friends, generous with her fans, and lonely at the end of every day. She is often insecure and is perhaps something of a snowflake. Her combination of provocativeness yet wariness about men is not explained, but is presented as is.
Gaga is conscious that she has turned thirty. The fact that her latest boyfriend has not worked out is only part of her misery. We learn that Gaga has an old pain in her hip that contributes to her worries. Keeping up with her backup dancers requires frequent sessions with physical therapists. She would like to have children, but she anticipates that her hip could make that prohibitively painful.
In one scene, her mother (?) suggests that she not be maudlin. It is a suggestion made in kindness, but might profitably be taken in a firmer sense. The heart of the movie – if there is a plot to this slice of life – is that Gaga is putting together an album (ultimately a successful one) dedicated to her aunt Joanne who died at age 19. This is not difficult to understand. Joanne was a promising writer and artist. Gaga clearly identifies with her almost as if she herself had died at a younger age. (Joanne is one of Gaga's middle names, I have since learned.)
For technical reasons, we do not get to see much of her concerts. This is not a filmed concert. We get to hear her sing, but not enough. The movie cuts away at the beginning of huge concerts. It is a little like being left on the launch pad at the end of "The Right Stuff," just as Gordo Cooper is about to take off on one of the most exciting and harrowing flights of the entire Mercury Space Program, but we don't get to see it.
Therein lies the problem that most viewers might have. If you want to see the diva, warts and all, then this is the documentary for you, but if you want to see her in action – or more importantly hear her – then you should hold out for one of her concert films.