Director: Ridley Scott
Starring: Lady Gaga, Adam Driver, Jared Leto, Jeremy Irons, Salma Hayek, Al Pacino
Run Time: 158 mins
House of Gucci is the second of two Ridley Scott offerings this season after The Last Duel. This is a crime biopic with quite the powerhouse cast adapted from a non-fiction book by Sara Gay Forden on Patrizia Reggiani, who was found guilty of arranging the murder of her husband, Maurizio Gucci. It’s a fascinating story which begins with the whirlwind fairytale romance between the two that starts to sour once they involve themselves in Maurizio’s father and uncle’s business. Patrizia forces Maurizio to be cutthroat and has an intuitive business sense even if that means spoiling family relations, whereas Maurizio is a more coolly calculated individual and understands that the Gucci name alone is enough to drive the business.
House of Gucci is a solid biopic and succeeds mainly on its performances and its gripping story. It is rather scattershot narratively in that it covers a lot of ground in a reasonably long run time but the film never really feels like it has a chance to breathe as it tries to cover too much. Scott also doesn’t quite master the balance between camp and serious and the film uneasily oscillates between the two tones.
The characters are gleefully horrible and this is a sprawling exploration of the timeline. Lady Gaga is deserving of her praise in the lead role, a tempestuous character who descends further into delirium. It is impressive that this is her second major feature film role after A Star Is Born and she more than fends her own against the experienced cast. Adam Driver is also excellent as the more level-headed yet savvy Maurizio and provides an interesting contrast to Gaga in his more sober performance. Al Pacino is typically passionate as Maurizio’s Uncle, Aldo and Jeremy Irons is chilling as the decadent yet increasingly vampiric Rodolfo. Then, there is Jared Leto, who has received a mixed reaction to his performance, some labelling it as Awards worthy and others citing he is acting in a different film. I would position my opinion somewhere in the middle – he tries to do something different but isn’t too outlandish and the performance worked for me. There is one particular scene between Leto and Pacino and for Leto to outshine Pacino when he is in full-Pacino mode is no mean feat.
Technically, the film is interesting with some expressionistic shots from Ridley Scott regular, Dariusz Wolski. They create a sense of foreboding with its muted colour palette as the film progresses, as if their lives are decaying and descending into hell. Harry Gregson-William’s jukebox soundtrack is disappointing in that the song choices are obvious and there aren’t any memorable themes.
Ultimately, House of Gucci is a gripping yet sprawling biopic that will be remembered more for its performances than its filmic construction. Scott’s direction is shambolic in places and he tries to bite off more than he can chew and it would have been a more interesting film if he had leaned more into the camp or blackly serious tone rather than swerve between the two. What we get is a film that doesn’t take enough risks as it should yet isn’t completely devoid of the ridiculousness this type of story requires.