November 22nd, 2021
MOVIE: HOUSE OF GUCCI
STARRING: LADY GAGA, ADAM DRIVER, AL PACINO, JARED LETO
DIRECTED BY: RIDLEY SCOTT
AMovieGuy.com’s RATING: 3 ½ STARS (Out of 4)
The central figure in Ridley Scott’s House of Gucci isn’t Patrizia Reggiani, or Maurizio Gucci, or even Aldo Gucci, but it is the whole of the matter, which is the Gucci fashion business empire. It is the lavish freedom that arrives with this control, with power comes peace, and everyone will do what must be done to keep it. It’s often fascinating to walk into a movie, thinking you will see a story about gold digging, infighting, and corruption- and that is present here- but what makes House of Gucci entertaining is the entire group. There’s an excellent procedure to this family, where a wealthy boys club, filled with arrogance and narcissism, is toppled by a woman who only wanted her piece of the power pie. That destruction is laid before us in grand fashion by Scott, with an excellent variety of performances, from the enigmatic elegance of Lady Gaga, the legendary standard from Al Pacino, and the go-for-broke madness from Jared Leto. It’s not always pretty, but House of Gucci is a lavish, dark, and disturbing tale of how this fashion house of cards came tumbling to the ground.
Earlier this year, Ridley Scott graced us with his grand-scale, three perspective take on the painful subject of rape, in the 19th-century drama The Last Duel. That film and House of Gucci are both similar in parts and yet nothing alike. Both are, however, about the arrogance of men, their inability to see things from a women’s point of view, and how this arrogance blinds them silly. Lady Gaga stars as Patrizia Reggiani, living in Italy, the daughter working as a secretary for her fathers garbage truck business. She forges checks for him, does the paperwork, and keeps the books even. When she meets Maurizio Gucci (Adam Driver) at a party, she views him as an opportunity, not entirely from a financial standpoint, but from a personal upgrade. A chance for her to live a life of substance. Maurizio, however, is not interested in the business of high-end fashion, staying out of his father Rodolfo (Jeremy Irons) and Uncle Aldo’s (Al Pacino) affairs. That is, until Patrizia and Maurizio get married, when the traditional concept of family comes back into the frame. It’s there when the sharp thinking, social climbing of Patrizia, who willfully uses the conflict of the family-business, including the dimwitted decisions of cousin Paolo Gucci (Jared Leto) to turn things into her favor. And when they don’t turn in her way? That’s when murder becomes the final option on the table.
There will be much debate surrounding the choices of Ridley Scott, and the all-star cast, but what must be acknowledged is that House of Gucci has commitment. Led by a stellar performance from Lady Gaga, along with strong work by Pacino, Driver, and Leto, much will be made of the actors’ choices of Italian accents. It would be an issue if they were all over the place, but each performance, and character sticks it from start to end. The screenplay as well by Becky Johnston and Roberto Bentivegna is rich in character depth, from Patrizia’s gaze at the way she’s disrespected, the tense exchanges of a father’s disapproval of a son between Rodolfo and Maurizio, or the pathetic tears of the fool that is Aldo Gucci. Each character is in no way, shape or form, one dimensional. If House of Gucci becomes a victim to anything it is not having a sense of restraint, which is something I was grateful that it had none of.
With a full-throated run-time of two hours and thirty-seven minutes, House of Gucci has three full acts, with the opening romance of a boy-meets-girl, how the empire rises up from the ashes out of Patrizia’s new way of thinking, and how the love and empire become united, making the downfall painful for everyone involved. All the Gucci characters take the collapse differently, but it is Patrizia who has the conviction, and the unwilling ability to let go. Her eventual choice to put a hit on Maurizio is not a crime of passion, but selfishness, a sense that if she cannot have it, then nobody can. Gaga’s transformation is the stuff of Hollywood legends, both Shakespearean in her portrayal and her character’s tragedy. She’s the beauty guiding the beast, Lady Macbeth directing her husband to success, or Cinderella fighting to stop the clock from striking midnight. An Oscar nomination might be on the horizon, but what’s clear- Gaga is going to be our next true movie star from this day forward.
The final result of House of Gucci is equal to a modern Greek tragedy. Ridley Scott has found a way two make two entirely different films in the same year and both incredibly successful. Gucci is a Ridley Scott greatest hits, where he’s revealing his inspiration from art and artists, such as The Godfather, Macbeth, Alfred Hitchcock, or Michelangelo Antonioni. The Alien director is going back to his own work, similar to the familial downfall in American Gangster, the cautionary tale he started in The Counselor, or David’s pursuit for paradise in Prometheus. House of Gucci is all of those rolled into one, on a gorgeous canvas, with fabulous costume design, set design, and cinematography to top it all off. It’s an epic tragedy pulled off by the maestro of theater- Ridley Scott. This isn’t even his best movie of 2021, but House of Gucci will be one of those movies you never forget.
HOUSE OF GUCCI ARRIVES IN THEATERS ON WEDNESDAY NOVEMBER 24TH, 2021
3 ½ STARS
Written by: Leo Brady