Ridley Scott’s “House of Gucci”, which is another new film from Scott in last year after “The Last Duel” (2021), is neither classy nor pulpy to my disappointment. While it is too superficial to be a serious drama about ambition and deterioration, it is also not trashy enough to be an enjoyable camp about greed and folly, and we accordingly come to observe its uneven and sprawling narrative without much care or attention despite all the hard works done by its leading actress.
The story mainly revolves around Patrizia Reggiani (Lady Gaga), and the early part of the movie shows us how she came to marry Maurizio Gucci (Adam Driver) in Milan, 1978. When she happens to come across Maurizio at one evening party, she does not hesitate to get closer to him mainly because he is an heir to the Gucci fashion house, and it does not take much time for her to win his heart, but there is one problem. Maurizio’s father Rodolfo (Jeremy Irons), who owns the half of the family business, does not approve much of Patrizia because she is just the daughter of some middle-class family man running a small local trucking company, and he even threatens to disinherit his only son, but Maurizio and Patrizia come to marry in the end once Maurizio makes it clear to his father that he is not so interested in running or inheriting their family business.
After disinherited by his father, Maurizio comes to depend a lot on Patrizia and her family due to his penniless status, and he does not mind at all working in his father-in-law’s company, but there comes a chance for both him and his wife a few years later. His uncle Aldo (Al Pacino), who owns the other half of the Gucci fashion house, is willing to let Maurizio join the family business mainly because he has been quite disappointed with his incompetent son Paolo (Jared Leto), and, despite his initial reluctance, Maurizio comes to accept his uncle’s offer as being urged by Patrizia, who is certainly delighted about going higher along with her husband at last.
After that point, things go fairly well for Patrizia and her husband for a while as they enjoy some glamour and luxury inside and outside Italy, but, of course, there comes a very complicated circumstance in their family business. As pushed more by his wife, Maurizio comes to clash a lot with Aldo over how to run and maintain their family business, and Patrizia is willing to do anything for making her husband have the total control over the Gucci fashion house. As a result, the situation becomes quite messy for everyone, and that also affects Mauricio and Patricia’s marriage, which becomes more deteriorated as he becomes more distant to her due to a number of personal and business matters.
As the story is eventually heading to what happened on March 27th, 1995, we are supposed to be more engaged around this narrative point, but the movie somehow fails to generate much interest or fascination for us. It surely tries to dazzle us as using many showy stuffs ranging from a bunch of fashionable attires to a number of recognizable pop songs from its period background, but the movie keeps fizzling just like Paolo’s disastrous fashion show at one point, and it only gets enlivened to some degree when a certain famous fashion designer enters the picture for saving the Gucci fashion house later in the story.
Above all, the main characters of the movie are not particularly interesting figures to observe. The screenplay by Becky Johnston and Roberto Bentivegna, which is based on Sara Gay Forden’s nonfiction book “The House of Gucci: A Sensational Story of Murder, Madness, Glamour, and Greed”, does not provide much insight or depth to Patrizia and the other main characters in the story, and they all come to us nothing more than broad caricatures destined to failure or disgrace from the beginning. While we come to understand Patrizia’s ambition to some degree at least, the movie does not delve much into what makes her tick, and the same thing can be said about the other main characters including her husband, who remains a vapid and blank figure even at the very end of the story.
Anyway, Lady Gaga, who already demonstrated her considerable acting talent in her recent Oscar-nominated turn in “A Star Is Born” (2018), tries really hard in her admirably committed performance which more fluidly oscillates between drama and camp than the movie itself. While her rather exaggerated Italian accent is initially distracting, Gaga fully embodies her character’s ambition and ferocity, and that is why her performance is entertaining to watch even when she deliberately goes for overacting.
Unfortunately, the movie does not support Gaga’s diligent efforts much, and neither do many of the main cast members, who are only demanded to fill each own spot without many things to do. It is certainly nice to see Al Pacino and Jeremy Iron sharing the screen during one brief scene, but these two great actors are just required to look tired and hammy, and that is all for us to see here. While Adam Driver is hopelessly stuck in his flat thankless role, Jared Leto, who is barely recognizable in his heavy makeup, gives another worst acting in his career after “Little Things” (2020), and Salma Hayek and Jack Huston manage to acquit themselves well despite being thoroughly under-utilized.
In conclusion, “House of Gucci” is quite disappointing for not going all the way with its sensational story materials, and I found myself becoming more bored and disaffected during its second half after trying to enjoy it during its first half. At least, Scott gave us “The Last Duel” right before this misfire, and I think you should watch that fairly good film instead.