HOUSE OF GUCCI is directed by Ridley Scott. The film stars Lady Gaga, Adam Driver, Jared Leto, Jeremy Irons, Salma Hayek, and Al Pacino. It’s based on a true story and a book by Sara Gay Forden.
Nervous young lawyer-in-training Maurizio Gucci marries the sassy Patrizia Reggiani in the 1970s, and before long, the two are involved in a whirlwind of scandals and stranger-than fiction goings-on in their lives, as they struggle to turn Gucci into a worldwide empire known in every corner of the globe. Obstacles the twosome must face involve Maurizio’s disapproving father, other family members who have their own plans for the Gucci name and empire, and a relationship between the twosome that grows more troublesome and estranged as time passes. Will the two reconcile their differences and build something for all time, or will the differences between the two culminate in tragedy?
There’s not a person in this world who hasn’t heard of the Gucci brand; it’s synonymous with high fashion and class, and has been for as far back as most can remember. Despite this, my knowledge of the actual brand and its history was fairly limited, so I was eager to see this film, learning about the iconic brand’s beginnings and the behind-the-scenes drama. The film breaks the story down to a digestible minimum with a relatively straightforward narrative, and despite a running time that pushes three hours, it’s rarely boring. Excellent casting, particularly from the two leads, makes this a story for the ages that must seen to be believed.
Where HOUSE OF GUCCI shines brightest is its two leads. Adam Driver is fantastic as Maurizio Gucci, showing off brilliantly what makes him one of the best actors of our time. Seeing this nervous and timid man thrust into uneasy situations makes for some shining true-to-life drama, and seeing his interactions with Lady Gaga as Patrizia Reggiani makes for an odyssey that’s hard-hitting, brutal, and at times, strangely comedic. While Gaga is best known as a singer, she’s certainly begun making herself known as an actress in recent years, something she also demonstrated brilliantly in the 2018 version of A STAR IS BORN. Many of the critics at the screening I attended claimed the two lacked chemistry, though I disagree here. To me it seems like this is just the turbulence between the two characters and the factors driving them apart; most certainly not a lack of chemistry between the twosome.
The remainder of the cast is filled out nicely, which includes Jeremy Irons as Maurizio’s chain-smoking father Rodolfo who truly holds the power at Gucci and clashes with his son, Al Pacino as Maurizio’s uncle/Rodolfo’s uncle Aldo, another major figurehead at the company and a role not too far removed from the “Organized Crime” types he’s so famous for playing, Salma Hayek as an eccentric fortune teller Patrizia confides in, and a virtually unrecognizable Jared Leto as Maurizio’s cousin Paolo. Seeing these brilliant actors and actresses interact with one another on the big screen as this based-on-a-true-story drama unfolds speaks for itself. With their performances and the gripping subject matter, HOUSE OF GUCCI becomes many things, and boring isn’t one of them.
The film also deserves credit for its cinematography, set designs, costuming, and the general look and feel of the film, which also includes its musical selections, consisting of many pop hits over the decades. Even though many of these songs are played anachronistically (clearly the budget allowed for beautiful set design but not a researcher to tell the crew when songs originally came out), they do suit the scenes and work for the production and the audience alike. From the Italian countryside to the streets and penthouse suites of New York City, HOUSE OF GUCCI is a delight to look at and to hear.
There are a handful of flaws that keep it from perfection, though. One of the biggest weaknesses is the diminished roles certain characters play in the film’s latter half; some aren’t seen or heard from again until the epilogues at the end of the film. At one point, Maurizio meets a rival designer who claims he wants nothing to do with Gucci and comes off as a potential antagonist; he’s never seen or heard from again. Why introduce plot points like this if you’re not going to build on them? However, the good ultimately outweighs the flaws due to its ability to get this story, while still feeling mostly whole, down to a what’s ultimately a manageable length.
HOUSE OF GUCCI is a fantastic film highlighting these real-life events and the stranger-than-fiction odyssey that accompanied them. Ridley Scott, one of film’s most gifted directors, past and present alike, is just the man to bring this saga to life on the big screen, this feature coming not long after THE LAST DUEL. The casting, cinematography, music, and everything in between make for a fantastic viewing experience sure to rank among 2021’s most memorable films. It’s nearly three hours long, yet it’s remarkably always involving. Highly recommended!