Review: House of Gucci

If The GodfatherThe result may have been hilarious if it had been for laughter. House of Gucci.Ridley Scott was the director. He presumably still had many chuckles from his last film. The Last DuelHe didn’t have one in the movie, so he was generous in adding some humor. There is not enough humor in the film to call it a complete comedy. And there’s no action to give the movie a more livelier feel. This tonal ambiguity—especially in a picture with a runtime of well over two and a half hours—diminishes the movie’s otherwise highly enjoyable satirical components.

The main cast—which includes Lady Gaga, Adam Driver, and a brilliant Jared Leto (unrecognizable under a layering of pudge-ball prosthetics)—is A-list all the way. Gaga’s Sicilian origins aside, her accent sounds decidedly Russian throughout the movie. The rest of the cast revels in faux-Italian conversations that will surely earn the Super Mario Seal of Approval. (This flaw is not an issue.

Based on Sara Gay Forden’s book, the story is written by Becky Johnston, Roberto Bentivegna and Roberto Bentivegna. It takes place during the bitter implosion Gucci Fashion Brand in the 1980s, 1990s. Gaga was a surprise to many with her performance at the 2018 Grammys. A Star Is BornPatrizia Reggiani is a stunning role. She was a middle-class girl that married the Gucci family in 1972, after she attracted the attention of Maurizio Gucci (Driver), a young fashion heir. Gaga is the star of this Patrizia, a beautiful woman with tight legs and steely determination. But when a dark cloud of heartbreak looms over her character at the end, Gaga creates one of the movie’s most powerful scenes.

Janty Yates has been Scott’s costume designer for many years. It’s a remarkable feat to bring back the wild spirit of 70s-80s fashions. There’s also wall-to-wall smoking, of course, and judiciously placed period music (Eurythmics, Blondie, Donna Summer)—just enough to establish the long-gone world from which these characters have been plucked.

Adam Driver is magnetic and almost straight in his role as the youngest Gucci. He’s a law student who has no interest in his family’s fashion company. Aldo, Al Pacino’s calculating uncle, draws him deeper into Gucci and wishes he could have a son as Maurizio rather than the stupid Paolo (Leto). Aldo’s tacky plans to modernize the family company are exemplified by his secret support of Gucci knockoffs at a fraction of the cost that block the tourist highways around the globe. These cheap Gucci products, Aldo says, are not ripoffs but “recreations”. Aldo’s commercial scheming gets disregarded by Rodolfo (Jeremy Irons sporting a caterpillar moustache), who is also against his son Maurizio marrying the commoner Patrizia. In turn, she sees an opportunity to profit from the Guccis’ internal resentments and become a powerful player within the Guccis. Patrizia, who was unceremoniously divorced by her husband of many years, is aided to execute what quickly becomes a deadly plan. Pina, a television psychic (Salma Hayek) and Domenico De Sole (Jack Huston), menacingly monitor the family’s sleek conssigliere.

You wonder why Scott used such long scenes to show the film’s inefficiency. The one that Scott shot in Florence is a poor example of Scott’s work. It was set on a hill outside Florence where Scott’s family runs a cattle farm which produces their famous leather. You’re thankful, however, that he afforded plentiful narrative space for Leto’s priceless Paolo, the Fredo of the Gucci clan—a lovable buffoon whose idea of a searing insult is, “You lying sack of potatoes!”

The director pays tribute to Francis Ford Coppola in this family-friendly celebration held in a courtyard with sun. Godfather. This scene makes one wonder how great this movie could have been if its director wasn’t constrained by Gucci’s real-life story structure. Coppola’s genius was a tribute to the power of fiction.