Movie Review: House of Gucci

Ever since the film’s trailer dropped showing Lady Gaga in full makeup crossing her chest while saying, “Father, son and House of Gucci”, fans and moviegoers have been eagerly awaiting the arrival of director Ridley Scott’s (THE LAST DUEL; ALIEN: COVENANT; THE MARTIAN) take on the demise of Tuscany’s first family of fashion. Unlike the brand in the 1970s, which was staid and boring, HOUSE OF GUCCI is bold and brash. What is similar, however, is that neither is to everyone’s taste.

HOUSE OF GUCCI follows Patrizia Reggiani (Gaga, A STAR IS BORN) from the time she was a bookkeeper at her father’s trucking outfit in northern Italy to her meeting and later marrying Maurizio Gucci (Adam Driver, THE LAST DUEL; the STAR WARS franchise; BLACKKKLANSMAN), the heir to half of the family’s fashion empire, and to her fall from grace after she hired a hitman in 1995 to kill Gucci after he had left her for another woman. Along the way, the audience meets the Gucci clan — Maurizio’s father, Rodolfo (Jeremy Irons, RED SPARROW; JUSTICE LEAGUE; THEIR FINEST; RACE), who runs the design business in Italy; his uncle Aldo (Al Pacino, SCENT OF A WOMAN, THE GODFATHER trilogy), who runs the New York office and flagship American store; and his socially inept and sartorially challenged cousin Paolo (Jared Leto, THE LITTLE THINGS; BLADE RUNNER 2049) — as well as Patrizia’s telepsychic Pina Auriemma (Salma Hayek, ETERNALS, THE HITMAN’S WIFE’S BODYGUARD). When Patrizia, who is far more ambitious than her husband, advises him to “take out the trash”, she puts herself and the Guccis on a track that sees the family at war with itself.

Don’t expect accuracy with HOUSE OF GUCCI. It’s not a biopic; it’s a dramatization of events so there’s quite a bit of literary license used here. The story is based on the Sara Gay Forden’s 2000 book, “The House of Gucci: A Sensational Story of Murder, Madness, Glamour, and Greed” but even that has been pared down. Characters like Paolo’s sister and Maurizio and Patrizia’s younger daughter are missing, and the chronology of events and who owns what percentage of the Gucci company have been tinkered with. The film, though, has all the intrigue, greed, backstabbing, infidelity, jealousy, beautiful clothes and, of course, murder that’s found in a teleromanzo. The performances are all deliciously campy, the accents are hit-and-miss (mostly miss), and the scenes are full of melodrama. If Scott’s intent was to mimic a soap opera or perhaps play like THE GODFATHER (Maurizio is not unlike Michael Corleone, after all), he wasn’t always successful as the film’s pace is dreadfully slow at times and feels all of its 2½-hour runtime.

Gaga is wonderful though, showing audiences that her eye-opening performance in A STAR IS BORN wasn’t a fluke. She embraces Patrizia’s brashness and ruthlessness with full gusto, often single-handedly carrying the film on her padded shoulders during many of those dull stretches. The film’s best performance though, and I can’t believe I’m about to admit this, comes from Leto. The actor, who is almost unrecognizable under a mountain of prosthetics and a fat suit, is brilliant as the hapless buffoon whose ambitions far exceed his talents. While Gaga will probably cop a Best Actress Oscar nomination, Leto might actually be the cast member who takes home a statuette.

Unfortunately for MGM and Universal, HOUSE OF GUCCI is not the winner they were hoping for. Reviews have been mixed and the film has so far only made back half of its production budget at the box office. It’s still early days though, and the film will most certainly benefit from an awards bump if it secures some high-profile nominations.

HOUSE OF GUCCI is playing now. Although the film’s tone is rather bumpy, I still enjoyed it so check it out.

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