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Blu-ray Review: House of Gucci

February 22, 2022

By John Corrado

★★ (out of 4)

Ridley Scott’s House of Gucci, the second of two movies that the veteran filmmaker put out last year (the other being The Last Duel), is a sprawling film that has ambitions of being a family crime saga à la The Godfather, with grandiose themes of betrayal, greed and murder.

But this “inspired by a true story” fashion drama somewhat collapses under its own weight, becoming a mostly bland, at times soapy affair that never really settles on the right tone or amount of campiness.

It also seems to have been designed to get Lady Gaga an Oscar for Best Actress. But, as fate would have it, Gaga was denied even a nomination. And, now that I’ve seen the film, I can’t say that I’m entirely shocked by the snub. Not because she isn’t good, but because she gets somewhat swallowed up by the uneven film around her.

Gaga stars in the film as Patrizia Reggiani, a working class woman from a family of truck drivers who married into the Gucci fashion empire when she met Maurizio Gucci (Adam Driver), the son of Italian designer Rodolfo Gucci (Jeremy Irons). Based on the book The House of Gucci: A Sensational Story of Murder, Madness, Glamour and Greed by Sara Gay Forden, which has been adapted for the screen by Becky Johnston and Roberto Bentivegna, the film charts how Patrizia climbed the ranks of the family and company.

Despite Maurizio pulling away from the fashion brand, and his own father disavowing him for marrying Patrizia, she ingratiates herself to his uncle Aldo (Al Pacino), whose eccentric son Paulo (Jared Leto) has his own ambitions of being a fashion designer, to cement herself at the centre of the Gucci family legacy. Patrizia, of course, would end up being charged with facilitating Maurizio’s murder, and the film feigns to show how they ended up falling out in such a tragic way.

This sounds like the makings of an intriguing, suspenseful drama. But, despite the best efforts of Gaga and Driver who both do decent work, Scott’s House of Gucci is a somewhat inert affair. It’s not entirely unentertaining, and does boast some attractive costumes and production design, but the pace of it feels somewhat slack. The film never quite finds the right balance between family crime saga and tawdry camp melodrama, and not every cast member even seems to be acting in the same movie.

Leto, who is barely recognizable buried under the Oscar-nominated hair and makeup (notably the sole nod the film received), steals every scene that he is in, but not in a good way. I’m not entirely sure who misunderstood the assignment here, because Driver and Gaga play it mostly straight, while Leto plays it for camp, with a broad, cartoonish caricature. The actor delivers every single one of Paolo’s absurd lines of dialogue with an exaggerated “it’s a me, Mario” Italian accent that is hard to take seriously. I actually think the Academy showed great restraint in not nominating him for whatever the heck he is doing.

Despite being one of the main selling points, the assassination plot feels rushed, being crammed into the final twenty minutes of the ambitious 158 minute running time. This undercuts much of the potential for suspense. The film doesn’t really spend enough time to really sell Patrizia’s descent into murderous mad woman in the last act, and I can’t help but feel like the story may have been better served if it had been stretched out more into a miniseries. While House of Gucci strives to be an operatic family crime saga, filled with covert business deals and family backstabbing, the self-serious, melodramatic execution of it ultimately falls somewhat frustratingly flat.

Bonus Features (Blu-ray):

The Blu-ray comes with three bonus featurettes, which add up to about twenty minutes in total. A regular DVD is also included in the package.

The Rise of the House of Gucci (10 minutes, 14 seconds): A general overview of the cast, themes of the film, and Scott’s process of shooting with four cameras to minimize the amount of takes.

The Lady of the House (5 minutes, 35 seconds): A specific look at Gaga’s performance, and how she got into character. It’s like a continuation of her Oscar campaign, which never came to fruition.

Styling House of Gucci (5 minutes, 26 seconds): Mainly focuses on the film’s admittedly impressive costumes, but also touches on the production design and locations.

House of Gucci is a Universal Pictures Home Entertainment release. It’s 158 minutes and rated 14A.

Street Date: February 22nd, 2022

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