House of Gucci is one of the most anticipated movies of the season, its star power one of the main draws.
Uber-celeb Lady Gaga, who has transcended the boundary of music fame into… well, everything fame… takes on the role of her career as Patrizia Reggiani, a real-life woman who, according to this film, sacrificed (and manipulated) everything to become a part of the powerful Gucci fashion family, no matter what the cost.
The subject matter is fascinating and there is indeed a heart-wrenching and tragic story here. The movie is gorgeous, too, dressed in the finest fashion from start to finish, replete with jaw-dropping scenes in St. Moritz, Switzerland, Italy’s Lake Como and Gaga’s home city of New York. It feels luxurious, even sumptuous; there are jewels, shoes, there is fine food, and of course the Gucci clothes and handbags — those need no description.
In one scene, Reggiani discovers knockoff Gucci handbags for sale on the street in Manhattan and is horrified. What could this mean for the quality behind the Gucci name? Its reputation? Little did director Ridley Scott realize this metaphor of the counterfeit bag would so accurately represent House of Gucci itself: it may look like an expensive product, like the real thing, but it’s actually an imposter.
What do you mean by that, exactly?
House of Gucci is not satire; at least, it doesn’t appear to be. It’s definitely not a comedy (though it may become one, inadvertently). The closest descriptor is melodrama. Everything is overacted, saturated, literally pushed to the brink. It’s also far too long, with a running time of approximately 2.5 hours. As with everything else, the storytelling itself is extravagant, almost as if you’ve been served three desserts after a huge meal. By the end, you’re absolutely stuffed. It tries so hard to be a meaningful knockout punch of a movie, it ends up being anything but.
I’ve heard a lot about the accents. Are they bad?
Flitting in and out, they’re sometimes sorta-Italian, but most of the time they come off sounding Russian or even Polish (trust me, I know Polish accents). Adam Driver, who plays Maurizio Gucci, Gaga’s love infatuation, is particularly brutal in this area. Gaga is taking a lot of flak for her accent, and she’s of Italian heritage herself so it’s rather embarrassing. Some line deliveries are especially painful and stop the proceedings flat.
How’s the acting, though?
The best actor of the bunch is Jeremy Irons, who nails the role of Rodolfo Gucci, father to Maurizio. A true theatre actor, he effortlessly embodies the role. Second to that, of course, is the legendary Al Pacino, who plays Aldo Gucci, brother to Rodolfo. He is believable and, dare I say it, not as bombastic as I expected him to be. His character has a twinge of sentimentality that helps ground him amid the circus playing out as the movie progresses.
Speaking of circus, Jared Leto as Paolo Gucci is an absolute sideshow. Disguised by prosthetics he’s virtually unrecognizable, his acting as vaudevillian as possible. He might as well be playing Mario, with Italian stereotypes bursting forth every few seconds he’s on-screen. I wouldn’t have been surprised if he started singing That’s Amore.
Gaga and Driver try their best in their roles but Driver comes off as wooden, with his huge, hideous glasses framing his face throughout. Gaga really pushes it as the conniving Reggiani, her every intent as clear as a bell in her shifty eyes and pursed lips. You can expect an Oscar nod for her efforts here, though based on the performance, I would be surprised at a win. It’s all so hammy and overwrought, the end result the opposite of what was intended.
Any other notable observations?
It’s possible that this movie could achieve cult status, much like the oft-derided Showgirls. Indeed, there are many parallels between the two films, including the at-any-costs leading woman, an aggressive, strange sex scene about one-quarter of the way through, and the ample overacting. Even the final scene of the movie has echoes of Showgirls‘ ending.
So what’s the bottom line?
House of Gucci is a showcase of excess, both in terms of subject matter and cinematography, and despite all its eccentricities manages to come off as dull. It is a knockoff of a blockbuster Hollywood movie: absolutely gorgeous to watch and filled to the brim with stars, but ultimately an empty shell threatening to fall apart at any moment.
‘House of Gucci’ is now playing in theatres across Canada. Please check your local listings for details.