Director Ridley Scott
Screenplay Becky Johnston, Roberto Bentivegna based on the book by Sara Gay Forden
Starring Lady Gaga, Adam Driver, Jared Leto, Jeremy Irons, Salma Hayek, Al Pacino, Jack Huston
Ridley Scott is one of the most prolific directors of our time. The quality of his output varies from great (The Martian, American Gangster) to good (Prometheus, Exodus: Gods and Kings, All the Money in the World) to average (The Last Duel, Alien Covenant) to awful (The Counselor, Robin Hood). Through it all, his films have always been cinematically interesting. The commercial for House of Gucci looked like it was going to be closer to awful, with Lady Gaga overdoing an Italian accent and Jared Leto overdoing everything.
Happy to say that first impressions of this film were mistaken. House of Gucci is actually a great film, bordering on classic. It tells the tale of a fashion dynastic family on the verge of unravelling. The performances are spectacular throughout, led by the always good Driver and the still underrated Gaga.Even Pacino and Leto are great. That they are not even annoying as they usually is an absolute miracle.
The film, as envisioned by Scott, his wife Gianna and team of writers, cinematographer and editors is made powerful for how they streamlined the story. The commercials present the film as a screed against a money and power hungry mobster woman who birngs down the family. This does not begin to describe what is going on with Patrizia Reggiani (Gaga) and her husband Maurizio Gucci (Driver). Sure the story starts with them meeting in a dance club, but the first third of the story is an almost innocent love story.
Meanwhile, brothers Rodolpho and Aldo Gucci (Irons and Pacino), have issues and eccentricies of their own. The company they inherited from their father and rode into immense riches. The rules are played fast and loose, but this is only because laws and the rule of economics has yet to catch up to them.
Leto’s Paolo Gucci is shown to be an eccentric with a good heart. It would be easy to dismiss him as a Fredo / Chris Cuomo type buffoon, but he had some real fashion talent, but has absolutely no head for business. Leto actually allows us to see this character in more than a single dimension. It’s not an easy role and he dives right into it.
There is nary a wasted shot in this mini-epic. There are things glossed over that in retrospect seem too obvious to commit to film. The last third of the film has the walls closing in on the family in more ways than one can count. Patrizia is shunned and moved to the side by an increasingly opportunistic and vigorous Maurizio. And yes, she does move against her former husband. That is not the only move that is about to blind side the last fool standing with the Gucci name, however.
House of Gucci is a powerful and concise film. It gives us the clear vision of what happens when a family inherits a vision that they don’t fully understand or even deserve. Maurizio is happiest before he ever gets thrust into the family business, the viewer realizes. If he and his wife had been forever outside the family graces, they might still be together today. That they never really know this is the tragedy.
(***** out *****)