The ostentatious offspring of “The Godfather” and “Succession” would resemble Ridley Scott’s “House of Gucci,” This is Gucci Reviews.
Ridley Scott’s “House of Gucci,” the master’s expansive yet wildly unbalanced depiction of the scandalous history of the titular and renowned fashion empire, which is full of backstabbing, betrayal, greed, and even murder, resembles the ostentatious lovechild of “The Godfather” and “Succession”
Based on the book by Sara Gay Forden, it has a spicy enough foundation and enough flamboyance. Lady Gaga transforms into an ambitiously tacky character, Jared Leto dials up yet another transformative joke to eleven, and there are plenty of exaggerated English words spoken with Italian accents that stretch and twist random words through cutely fluctuating emphases on every other syllable.
You might understandably wonder, “Then what’s the problem,” in reference to a campy package that sounds utterly entertaining on a fashion-soaked, star-studded, feast-for-the-eyes canvas.
It might be helpful to use a character’s description of the propped-up and preppy Ralph Lauren as “a movie set,” the vibrant showiness of Versace as “a rock concert,” and the refined legacy of Gucci as “the Vatican of fashion” in this context.
Imagine all these various outfits displayed on a patchwork runway that purports to represent the unique voice of a single designer. That disjointed group is “House of Gucci,” a movie that would have benefited from a clearer outline and a slight reduction in its tedious running time.
The fact that some of its actors, like Leto, aren’t afraid to lean into the movie’s kitschy tone, as well as some fearless moments—like one sensationally go-for-broke sex scene—meet them at that amplified level, makes Scott’s soapy epic, his second film this year after the superior (and also somewhat campy) “The Last Duel,” from which it was adapted, not exactly a bore.
Patrizia Reggiani, an assertive young woman from modest means who falls in love with and marries Maurizio Gucci (a disproportionally subdued Adam Driver), the dreamboat scion of the fashion house, is portrayed by a fierce Lady Gaga in an uneven performance.
Patrizia finds a welcome ally in Uncle Aldo after being rejected by traditional and haughty Maurizio’s father Rodolfo (Jeremy Irons), who subtly shames Patrizia for her lack of cultural finesse (Al Pacino).
He is the calculating brother of Rodolfo, who insists on quality and class, and has a different commercialist mindset when it comes to reviving Gucci’s flagging reputation in the 1970s and overcoming the brand’s murmured financial difficulties.
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Aldo’s son Paolo, played by Jared Leto, is also involved. His outrageous (and incredibly entertaining) gaudiness is what gives the scene the analogy of a rock concert.
The way Leto approaches the part immediately fits Paolo, a want-to-be incompetent businessman and aspiring fashion designer with poor taste and even worse talent. Throughout the three-decade-long narrative, there is animosity and bad blood in the family,
Especially after Patrizia deceitfully talked Maurizio out of his plans to attend law school, forced her way into the family business, and turned her husband against pretty much every member of the family.
Salma Hayek’s gullible psychic Pina helps the increasingly upset queen bee Patrizia through it all by foretelling the future, giving the movie some of its most hilarious moments.
If only the actors could choose the type of film they were all in. You could say that Adam Driver does a fantastic job as Maurizio, but his measured demeanor feels so out of place with the version of “House of Gucci” that Leto or Hayek seems to think they’re in.
In that sense, he operates in a completely different movie, one that Lady Gaga occasionally joins when she’s not on a different frequency. The script by Becky Johnston and Roberto Bentivegna, which switches between a somber drama and a goofily heightened melodrama with a perverse sense of humor, also exhibits this tonal inconsistency. Many of the laughs are unintentional.
The only time “House of Gucci” succeeds, even soars, is when the movie has the audacity to embrace the second half of its split personality. But regrettably, that confidence doesn’t often materialize.
As it follows the unfortunate and once-vulnerable Maurizio as he willingly steps to the dark side of his powers and revitalizes Gucci as the multi-billion dollar premier designer we know today, the resulting movie quickly loses steam in its final act. In these scenes, Reeve Carney does a good job of playing young Tom Ford.
Unsurprisingly, “House of Gucci” makes the best impression through visual design. The film showcases the luxury and extravagance of the Gucci lifestyle with grace and the utmost attention to detail thanks to Arthur Max’s intricate production design.
The story is set in Rome, Milan, New York, and even the Alps, where Maurizio and Patrizia vacation, and an incredible Camille Cottin makes an appearance as Maurizio’s romantic interest-to-be. (The majority of the movie, as well as the interior shots, reportedly took place in and around Rome.)
Customer Janty Yates is undoubtedly the project’s standout performer, particularly in the way she shapes Lady Gaga’s Gina Lollobrigida-inspired appearance and character development—from her early flouncy unworldliness to her sharply cut outfits and later, vulgar getups—and influences the actor’s performance, which deviates into an animalistic tone.
The designer’s impeccable suiting, which was primarily made bespoke by a New York tailor with a few additions by Ermenegildo Zegna, maybe even more impressive because it highlights the neatly coiffed Driver’s masculine elegance like no other movie ever has.
However, these images are merely special effects of a sort, elements that keep “House of Gucci” moving forward when other parts of the movie drag on for too long. You go there expecting a high-end boutique experience, but when you leave, it reminds you a lot of a crammed department store.