House of Gucci review by Mark McPherson - Cinema Paradiso
The sordid tale of the Gucci family and brand is certainly one built for a soap-opera style miniseries. It’s surprising that it took this long for such a project to ever come about. But it’s a project that seems better suited for a miniseries than it does a movie, even when placed in the crafty hands of director Ridley Scott. Even though this film has a lot of decadence for its A-list casting and fantastic production design, such a film feels rushed, even with over two hours of room to let such a sprawling story.
The best part of the picture is by far the talent placed on the screen. Lady Gaga melts into the role of Patrizia Reggiani, a woman with big dreams of being more than just a manager for her father’s trucking company. Adam Driver is a delight as the conflicted, shy, and bitter Maurizio Gucci, cautious about trying to distance himself from his exceptionally wealthy family. While trying to muster Italian accents, these two do have great chemistry, where their many sex scenes have great built and eroticism.
While we’re on that topic, there’s a key scene that displays the biggest problem with such a film. There’s a great moment where Maurizio, having rejected his father’s wealth, takes a job at Patrizia’s father’s company and plays soccer with the employees during a break. Sweaty and energized, he then meets Patrizia in one of the trailers where they have sex. It’s shot well but the soundtrack crowds the scene with era-appropriate music. It’s as if the film is trying to remind you of where we are in the timeline at all times, as though the subtitles and fashion weren’t enough.
The film constantly features characters talking about little else than the nature of their business and their current romantic affairs. Jeremy Irons is always a treat, playing the stuffy elite of Maurizio’s father Rodolfo Gucci, but he spends more time talking about old money and his dead acting career than just about anything else. Salma Hayek had a chance to be a bit of a wild card as Patrizia’s partner in crime but she spends nearly the entire film only speaking about ways to get her the most money.
There are two standouts who spend more time eating their scenes than spouting the essential exposition. Al Pacino always brings exuberance and doesn’t skimp when playing Aldo Gucci, the founder of the fashion line for the family and the most welcoming of the marriage between Patrizia and Maurizio. His commentary between moments of feuds and business discussions is a lot of fun to watch. The most questionable of characters is by far Jared Leto’s take on Paolo Gucci. His motives are simple enough that he’s allowed a handful of moments to just be the pathetic eccentric who desperately wants to play a bigger role in the Gucci empire. His scenes range from laughable to jarring, though he does pair well for his few scenes with Pacino.
House of Gucci has a lot of great components but rarely does it build to little more than a stylish biopic that is more pleasing to look at than become engrossed in the tragic story of business, fashion, love, and murder. It feels as though a handful of scenes were left on the cutting room floor and I hope that one day they will see the light of day in a director’s cut. If there truly is more, House of Gucci may very well be a great Ridley Scott picture. In its current form, though, while being placed so close to his recent release of The Last Duel, it’s only a mildly pleasing picture, where the look of Adam Driver in a knit sweater is more appealing than the scene of him ignoring his wife at a ski resort.