When Patrizia Reggiani marries into the Gucci family, her unbridled ambition begins to unravel their legacy and triggers a reckless spiral of betrayal, decadence, revenge, and ultimately…murder.
THE GOOD STUFF
-GAGA- I’ll put this in a very straightforward manner. If you see this film and you walk out of it thinking that it is anything EXCEPT an unmitigated disaster, that will most likely be because Lady Gaga’s performance is at the very least good. When you look at a film like this (the cast, the director, the infamy involved with the subject matter, the killer 1980s soundtrack), you realize that it’s a film with a lot going for it BEFORE you even see it. The primary reason it could even become a disaster was if Gaga turned in a performance as historically awful as Elizabeth Berkley in SHOWGIRLS.
Thank goodness it wasn’t that. She does carry the vast majority of this film, and you can tell that she’s really going for broke. I don’t know if it’s worthy of all the Oscar buzz she’s been getting for this, but at the very least, I can see her on the screen with Oscar winners like Al Pacino, Jared Leto, and Jeremy Irons, and she doesn’t look out of place whatsoever.
-JARED LETO- At what point are we going to start acknowledging that Jared Leto is one of the better character actors in Hollywood, AND HE HAS BEEN FOR ABOUT 15 YEARS OR SO?
Is he over the top? Of course, he (AND EVERYONE ELSE) absolutely is. He is the comic relief that’s played to be the underdog. Leto creates sympathy for the audience, and he’s got substantially less screen time than most people on that poster. Let start giving respect to artists like Leto with THIS level of consistent commitment. Pretty please.
-ADAM DRIVER- At this point, Adam Driver is the movie star equivalent of a Toyota Camry. In the case of both Adam Driver and the Camry, when you see the name, there are a number of traits that you associate with the brand, all of them are ultimately good. The performance of both the Camry and Adam Driver throughout the years has been consistent, and the reputation of both the car and the man has now been associated with quality performances, dependability, and a complete and utter lack of flashiness in any discernible way.
The third act of the movie belongs to him, he owns it rather effortlessly, and he is a joy to watch. I can’t say too much about him that I didn’t say in my review of THE LAST DUEL earlier in the year. But he’s always worth mentioning.
-THE MUSIC- Ridley Scott got on his Martin Scorsese tip when it came to the pop soundtrack in this film. If this film jumped from scene to scene and just used a standard Hollywood orchestrated score, I don’t think the film’s atmosphere would feel the way it does.
It is one thing to have artists like Donna Summer, The Eurythmics, David Bowie, George Michael, and Blondie sweltering in the background of anything involving Lady Gaga’s character. Still, it’s also really creative to have the world of the excessive wealth of the Gucci family peppered with opera music. In particular, The Barber of Seville…which is slightly ironic. It’s even more clever to combine the two at a particularly chaotic moment in the third act when the Two worlds violently clash.
THE BAD STUFF
-MISSED OPPORTUNITIES- Last I checked, this movie was called HOUSE OF GUCCI. Last I checked, this movie was NOT called “the Story of Patrizia and Maurizio.” Yes, I understand that everything involving the romance is why the book this was based on was written and why there’s a movie in front of our faces today.
However, there are so many little interesting side stories involving the Gucci company that would be engrossing in and of itself:
- The conflict of interests involving the two brothers that run the Gucci brand at the beginning of the film…
- Paolo Gucci’s flat-out war with the family brand in the early eighties…
- The resurrection of the reputation of the brand almost solely due to the genius of Tom Ford…
…and like three other things I could also mention (but that would make this review a lot longer than what I intend it to be), I didn’t expect to hear the story of the Gucci brand, but THAT story is a very, very, very, interesting story. But when we get little tastes of other exciting side stories… the film forces us to get back to the relationship between Driver and Gaga, and by the third act, it has run its course.
THE UGLY STUFF
-MELODRAMA- I can’t help but conclude that maybe this type of film isn’t the wheelhouse of Ridley Scott. It’s not that he can’t do it or shouldn’t do it, but it’s not the thing that he does excellently. As opposed to THE LAST DUEL, which SHOWED a lot more than it verbally explained, this film has MULTIPLE scenes that are filled with speeches spelling out the characters’ serious intentions, business dealings, and personal hang-ups without ever really putting something on the screen that would have the audience piece it together themselves.
And this is already a two-and-a-half-hour film that’s pretty stuffed. So forced dialogue like this is a key indicator that maybe the filmmakers bit off a little bit more than they can chew with this subject matter.
This movie is flawed but is NOT BAD and worth a recommendation. But if I’m honest here… when it comes to the love story aspect of things, HOUSE OF GUCCI readily displays time and time again that portrayals of doomed sensationalized paparazzi-fied power couples are more of a Ryan Murphy wheelhouse than Ridley Scott. But, of course, if you’re familiar with the work of Murphy, then you will know exactly what I mean.
HOUSE OF GUCCI is playing in theatres now