Though Ridley Scott may be able to blame millennials on their “f*****g cell phones” for the failure of The Last Duel, I’m not sure he can use that excuse for House of Gucci, because many people I’ve spoken to in person have been very excited for this film. We love a great story behind something so recognisable as Gucci, but we especially love it when there are so many layers to unravel, and the story of the Gucci family promised non-stop drama of every variety. However, if we can learn one lesson from House of Gucci, it’s that sometimes we place films on pedestals that they clearly don’t belong on. Although I felt engaged by House of Gucci, I did have higher expectations from it.
Let’s start with what I expected to be meteoric in this film which is it’s larger than life cast of characters. Lady Gaga as Patrizia Reggiani is astounding, with her performance you get the full picture of who her character is, a corruptive, social climber who manipulates her way to climb up the Gucci family ladder and business with her husband Maurizio Gucci (Adam Driver). It’s incredible to witness Lady Gaga’s meteoric rise in becoming an amazing actor, she made an incredible leap from the violent overloaded Machete Kills to being nominated for Best Actress in A Star is Born, it’s clear that she is on a pathway to being a recognisable screen presence.
A simple formula for great characters is a clear journey from who they are to what they become by the end of the film. This route for Patrizia and Maurizio is crystal clear with their relationship, which is by far, the most interesting story going on in House of Gucci. Maurizio is at the beginning quite restrained, keeping himself very much to himself, he has no interest in being the heir to the family business, but Patrizia sees the chance to puppet him into making decisions he wouldn’t normally take. It’s when the strings are cut, and she no longer has control of him where you see the brilliance of how fleshed out these characters are.
Just if you think it was a no-brainer in a film about Gucci, the costumes are impeccably stylist and elevate an already cool cast. It feels like the filmmakers were granted unlimited access to all Gucci products because you get a really good range of clothing. Something I never noticed watching the film but thinking about it now is how the costumes also go through their sort of arc with the character. For instance, Maurizio’s clothing is pretty casual at the start, but as he becomes more involved in taking over the reins of the company, it’s pretty much all suits. This may seem obvious but to choose casual clothing over his family’s stylish attire is a great decision to emphasise his distance from the business.
Like I said, I had high expectations from House of Gucci, and of course, the film does have its not so great points that will be covered, but this aspect, in particular, is downright embarrassing and will be the biggest controversy of the film. That being Jared Leto’s performance as Paolo Gucci, who is considered the black sheep of the Gucci family in this film. This is a beyond confusing performance as he seems to both overact and underact at the same time. But the overacting is particularly cringy as he dons a whinny, Italian accent and acts like a child being told he can’t buy a new toy most of the time. Remember how Will Smith was criticised for appearing in Oscar-bait films so he can quickly nab a best actor nomination, that’s exactly what Jared Leto is doing, but he’s going one step further by changing his whole appearance to try and get people to say, “THAT’S Jared Leto!?”. It’s not clever and it’s a very sneaky way to a best actor nomination.
It becomes very clear that the relationship between Patrizia and Maurizio is the beating heart of this film. we naturally gravitate to this being the focus of our attention, however near the final act of the film when Maurizio becomes a big player in the family business, the film nearly moves away from their relationship and becomes more about saving the family business. Because we have spent so much time already with Patrizia and Maurizio, the scenes where business dealings are going on aren’t exactly inspiring to the audience. Yes, these business dealings add to the bigger picture being painted, but in these moments, the film forgets to keep its focus on the characters.
The best way to describe House of Gucci is that it is like a mafia film without the gratuitous violence. Ridley Scott has certainly nailed down his characters to the finest characteristics. It’s a long film, but you’ll never need to move an inch because you’ll be too encapsulated watching these characters evolve. Usually, I find many films don’t have glaring issues, just minor gripes that behave more like annoyances. House of Gucci on the other has big problems, and these big problems also bring down its big reputation. I won’t say it’s a total disappointment, but there were certainly some empty feelings once the credits rolled.
Final Result: 7/10 – Good
Have you seen House of Gucci? What did you think? Please let me know your thoughts and opinions in the comments below.
Next Time: Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City