Ridley Scott is definitely one of the most prolific directors working right now. There have been several years when he’s had two films out and that is also the case for this year. A few months ago The Last Duel was released and now House of Gucci is out. However, I would say this is on the weaker end of Scott’s films.
The film focuses on Patrizia Regianni, a woman who works at her dad’s trucking firm, who meets law student Maurizio Gucci, the son of Rodolgo Gucci and the heir to 50% of the Gucci fashion house, at a party. The two start a relationship with each other and later get married, before getting more directly involved in the running of Gucci, bringing the two into growing conflict with Aldo Gucci, who is running the chairman of Gucci, and his son Aldo, who has a reputation as an idiot. However, the relationship between Patrizia and Maurizio soon starts to sour, which starts to cause wider issues at Gucci. The big problem I had with the film is one of tone. I was never sure whether this wanted to be a more gritty true crime drama or a lurid and camp film, fitting the aesthetics of the Gucci family. The film switches between these tones way too often and ends up creating a dissonance which completely drew me out of the film. There are interesting ideas at play regarding the nature of the Gucci family and the changing face of fashion, but the disconnect in the tone means that you’re not sure how these are meant to land, whether you’re meant to laugh or feel sympathy for the Gucci’s. Not helping matters is that this is way too long and not paced effectively for a film of this length, with the differing tones not helping with the pacing issues. This is a case of a film that doesn’t know what it wants to be, and it ends up bringing the film down.
The performances in the film are a mixed bag. The tone of the film comes together the best when Lady Gaga is on screen. She shows the nature of Patrizia well, making her a more complex character and exuding a powerful presence whenever she’s on screen. The parts of the film that work do so mainly because of her performance. Adam Driver is solid as Maurizio, doing some interesting work, especially in the second act as he becomes more of a villainous presence, and making for a good contrast with his earlier work in the film. Jeremy Irons and Al Pacino ham it up in their roles, but that’s exactly what you want in this situation. You don’t put Irons and Pacino opposite each other for subtlety and there is some good fun with their work. Salma Hayek is interesting in the film, if underutilised, and there’s some good work from Jack Huston and Reeve Carney. Then we get to Jared Leto. There’s no beating around the bush, Leto is terrible. Even when against people like Irons and Pacino, Leto is so over the top that he ends up making Paolo Gucci a cartoon character. Everything about his performance is so far removed from the rest of the film that it helps to create the tonal problems that drag the rest of the film down.
The technical elements of the film are fairly strong though. The costume design in particular is a highlight, particularly in the way that it shows the changing nature of Gucci and how the fashion house evolves over the years. The production design and direction is solid, as to be expected from a Ridley Scott film, whilst the make-up work is pretty good, whilst I thought Leto’s performance was bad, the make-up work for him was pretty good. The music was a bit of a mixed bag. The original score is decent but the needle drops for most of the film are fairly on the nose and don’t quite match the overall feel of the film.
Overall, I found myself being disappointed by House of Gucci. There are some good elements of the film, mainly with Lady Gaga’s performance, but the tonal issues in the film cause way too many issues that prevent the film from working as a whole. This could have been either a solid true crime drama or a piece of lurid, camp melodrama, but in trying to mesh these two styles together, the film as a whole falls apart.
My Rating: 2.5/5