We get Lady Gaga doing her best Mario Brothers impression. Any time a film starts with characters presumably meant to be speaking another language (in this case Italian) but actually speaking heavily accented English you know we’re probably in for a chaotic time.
Gaga stars as Patrizia Reggiani, a middle class young woman with dreams of a greater life. She soon meets Maurizio Gucci, played by a shockingly upbeat Adam Driver. We literally have not seen him smile so much in a performance ever. It was a little unnerving but also sometimes refreshing?
Fashion Star-Crossed Lovers
The film follows their courtship and the ripple effect it has on the Gucci empire. Jeremy Irons stars as Maurizio’s father, Rodolfo Gucci. Irons (who we generally adore) doesn’t even bother to try to hold onto the Italian accent. His natural British lilt slips through more often than not. Rodolfo is displeased with his son’s choice of beau.
The relationship drama that takes up the majority of the first act is probably the most watchable of the film. Though it’s nothing revelatory, if you’re here for the melodrama it is prepared to serve it to you in droves. Things descend into pandemonium when we meet two of the other members of the Gucci clan. Al Pacino stars as Aldo Gucci, Rodolfo’s brother and Maurizio’s uncle. Jared Leto shows up in an almost unrecognizable turn as Paolo Gucci, son of Aldo and operating on a far different wavelength than anyone in the film.
We don’t know who chews more scenery in the film, Pacino or Leto. At least Pacino seems like he’s having a grand ol’ time. Plus he’s the only one who can sort of pull off the Italian accent!
It’s All About Family
The middle of “House of Gucci” turns into a corporate centered (yet still grounded in family) business movie. We are hostage to the political maneuvering of a bunch of incompetent or overly expositioned scenes. If you want a well executed version of this type of story, may we suggest something like “Succession” instead.
The dryness is occasionally broken up by Gaga’s visits to her psychic, played by Salma Hayek who feels like she is in an entirely different film. Don’t get us wrong, we’d actually like to watch the Gaga / Hayek spectacle over some of the other stuff we’re served.
Sometimes the scenery chewing in the film can be amusing. We don’t get the sense it was Scott’s intention to make something so absurd it borders on parody. Yet if you go into it with the same approach you’d take to say a “Real Housewives” or a particularly good “Saturday Night Live” skit – you may be in for a great time.
Time Time Time
There is absolutely an interesting story somewhere in the heart of “House of Gucci” but Scott’s decisions did not convey it in this film. Underneath the obsession with showcasing the peak of 70s and 80s fashion (Gaga’s hair in the film is like a bonkers timeline of its own) we saw glimmers of hope. Yet clocking in at a whopping 2 hours and 37 minutes, we feel like this would have been better served as a mini series. Something like “The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story.”
Yes we know it’s an easy comparison given they both center on crime and fashion houses. However “Versace” gave us time to explore the motivations of characters instead of pinging around between romantic drama, family feuds, and corporate takeovers. Plus it didn’t feature Jared Leto in an absurd fat suit.
Lady Gaga’s over the top-ness is probably just the right note for some audiences. If you see the trailer and go “yes, this is for me, absurd accents and all” you are probably in for a decent time. If you also go into it with popcorn in hand ready to watch a ludicrous time, you may also enjoy yourself. However those looking for a serious and well crafted story of romance, betrayal, and murder – look elsewhere.
If we could summarize the entire movie in a gif it would probably be this:
“House of Gucci” is in theaters now.