The price of fame and the corrupting influence of power aren’t exactly uncharted ground when it comes to film and television. But what about when it happens in real life, and a movie is made charting those true events, is it fair to criticize the film and label it cliché?
That’s my dilemma with House of Gucci, Ridley Scott’s second film of 2021, released within a month of The Last Duel, which (spoiler) I liked much better than this one. Funnily enough, both star Adam Driver and feature bloated two and a half hour runtimes. Each has their merits, and each their downsides.
As I alluded to earlier, House of Gucci is a (fictionalized) historical retelling depicting the fall of the Gucci family dynasty, which owned the company since its founding. Patrizia Reggiani (Lady Gaga) marries the youngest member of the Gucci family, Maurizio (Adam Driver), whose father essentially disowns him over his relationship with Patrizia. Jared Leto, Jeremy Irons and Al Pacino also star as the other members of the Gucci family, who essentially become main characters as the film progresses.
The performances are undeniably fantastic, and I must admit I truly enjoyed every moment Lady Gaga was on screen. I’m really glad she’s found a second career as an actor, and this is another really solid performance from her. Adam Driver, Jeremy Irons and Al Pacino are also incredible (to be fair, I’ve never seen a bad performance from any of them), and while I typically like Jared Leto, his Paolo Gucci sounds way too much like an exaggerated parody of Mario. His storyline is one of the most interesting the film has to offer, and I think I would be more into it if I wasn’t stifling laughter whenever he was on screen.
Even if you don’t know the true story (I sure didn’t), House of Gucci functions as any biopic should and makes everything crystal clear for those not familiar with its subject matter. It flows through time effortlessly, giving us a full picture of the events it depicts instead of just the climax, arguably the most well-known part of the story. However, it might go on a bit too long — two and a half hours is a long time, and I’m not sure the story warrants it.
I won’t lie when I said I had high hopes for this movie, especially coming off The Last Duel — and by all rights, with the sum of its parts, House of Gucci should be a masterpiece. I think part of it it was the heightened expectations, but part of it is definitely the fact that the film is too much for its own good. Even though I’m sure it takes its creative liberties, Gucci is proof that sometimes the truth behind the story is more interesting than the film adaptation.
You’d think that a film covering a major event in the fashion industry would work well on a big, near-blockbuster scale, but House of Gucci just…doesn’t. Its biggest accomplishment is acting as an impressive testament to Ridley Scott’s continued skill as a visual director — House of Gucci is pretty to look at, but takes effort to sit through. [Grade: B-]
Director: Ridley Scott
Writers: Becky Johnston, Roberto Bentivegna
Starring: Lady Gaga, Adam Driver, Jared Leto, Al Pacino, Salma Hayak, Jeremy Irons
Rated: R for language, some sexual content, and brief nudity and violence
Fun Fact: Despite being annoyed that Lady Gaga would not meet with her, Patrizia Reggiani approved of the actor portraying her.
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