House of Gucci
United Artists Releasing
Reviewed for Shockya.com by Abe Friedtanzer
Director: Ridley Scott
Writer: Becky Johnston and Roberto Bentivegna
Cast: Lady Gaga, Adam Driver, Jared Leto, Jeremy Irons, Jack Huston, with Salma Hayek and Al Pacino
Screened at: MGM Studios Screening Room, LA, 12/8/21
Opened: November 24th, 2021
When a real-life story is sensational, it’s understandable that those adapting it into something else would want to preserve a degree of that excess. Navigating a balance between absurdity and authenticity is no easy feat, and an attempted homage to actual events can feel more like than parody if that isn’t properly achieved. Any take on something that has occurred recently and is very familiar to the public is likely to be controversial and open to multiple conflicting interpretations. House of Gucci, Ridley Scott’s vision of a wealthy and doomed dynasty, is certainly that.
Patrizia Reggiani (Lady Gaga) meets Maurizio Gucci (Adam Driver) at a party and is immediately entranced by him. The bespectacled, soft-spoken businessman finds his relationship with his father Rodolfo (Jeremy Irons) irreversibly damaged by his determination to be with Patrizia, who Rodolfo warns is only interested in the family money. As Patrizia is opened up to an entirely new and idyllic lifestyle at the height of fame and power, Maurizio makes moves to partner with his uncle Aldo (Al Pacino), while Aldo’s own son Paolo (Jared Leto) feels increasingly scorned by the family that seems to want nothing to do with him.
This film is based on Sara Gay Forden’s book The House of Gucci: A Sensational Story of Murder, Madness, Glamour, and Greed, whose extensive title should paint an accurate picture of what it is. Gucci is a brand that is known around the world and renowned, and it stands to reason that those associated with it would be so rich that they would have no idea what to do with all their wealth. This film confirms that, indicating the lavishness with which they lived their lives and conducted themselves, and the burning desire for success at any cost that drove them.
After opening with a tease of the scene that comes near the film’s end and serves as its climax, this film follows an entirely standard narrative format, introducing new elements and obstacles to its plot in the order that they actually manifested themselves. Patrizia quickly becomes comfortable within the Gucci family, even if others within it are not open to her presence, and she goes to great lengths to ensure her eternal association with it, imprinting herself on parts of the company that her husband would rather her not have anything to do with since he believes it to be his business and his concern.
On prime display here are the performances of this cast of mostly American actors. Gaga, who earned acclaim and accolades for her role in A Star is Born several years ago, imbues Patrizia with a spark that makes her easy to watch and enjoy, even if her character is full of red flags. Driver is subdued but appropriately energetic as Maurizio, who presents himself as buttoned-up but is far more prone to impulsive stubbornness than he would like to admit. Irons and Pacino chew their fair share of scenery, but neither compares to Leto’s unrecognizable performance, buried under layers of makeup and prosthetics and apparently interested in painting Paolo as nothing more than a lunatic. His indulgent accent and general zaniness are distracting and unnecessary, dialing up a turn that could have been far more effective were it not seemingly aiming for such high levels of ridiculousness.
Scott has an extensive resume as a director, actively working for more than four decades. This feature is best compared to All the Money in the World, an effort to capture an almost immeasurable scale of wealth and the behavior it fosters that never quite feels entirely accurate, rather than The Counselor, a prime example of how pushing limits can have disastrous consequences. There is an engrossing narrative here, but after two and a half hours of lavish outfits and massive sets, this film doesn’t feel like it’s entirely earned all that attention.
Story – B-
Acting – B
Technical – B
Overall – B-