Image: Lady Gaga as Patrizia Gucci [Source: Google Images]
When Patrizia Reggiani, an outsider from humble beginnings, marries into the Gucci family, her unbridled ambition begins to unravel their legacy and triggers a reckless spiral of betrayal, decadence, revenge, and ultimately…murder.
Ridley Scott did not have a quiet and isolated pandemic. That is clear to see with his second feature film releasing this year. The second starring Adam Driver also. Here we find a much more modern story to follow and full of much more aspiration. The term Oscar Bait comes to mind but House of Gucci tries too hard to be many different things and sadly falls short of the sum of all its parts. Which is extremely promising to say the least. A star studded cast, filled with top tier talent and rising performers alike. A director who earlier this year released a film that might just be my favourite film of the year thus far, renowned for his filmography and with a story juicy enough to squeeze many pints out of.
Which is why House of Gucci much like the sombre notes the film bows out on. Feels tragic and like wasted potential. In its final moments House of Gucci leaves the audience with the ruins of a family twisted and destroyed and its legacy in the hands of money obsessed billionaires who care little for the family legacy they wield. It’s probably the most connected I felt throughout the entire run time. Feeling sorry that this family were pitted against each other and whose family orientated business and legacy will forever now be lost to them outside of name alone. The only performances I felt gravitated towards this interpretation throughout the picture were Adam Driver who practically shows us a masterclass in coping around performances who care little for nuance, and Jeremy Irons who while in image is loud, his performance is refined strain that masterfully tells all we need to know without shouting it at the audience.
The contrary being Jared Leto and at times Lady Gaga. Gaga at least does lead a commanding and believable yet camp performance. It’s fun and often speculative and at the very least gives us some connection to a character that otherwise was a one note caricature – gold digger. Then Jared Leto absolutely takes the cake, eats it whole and demands more. There is not a single scene where Leto performs as if he is acting alongside the other actors, he might as well perceive himself as centre stage, spotlight shining down and the audience is about 100 feet away. While at times Leto does land the comic relief well, he is mostly like a huge clown walking around in an otherwise period piece of a film. Pacino sadly gives him a run for his money at times but thankfully there are plenty of moments where Pacino’s credentials shine and you remember why you know the name Pacino.
The biggest sinner in all of this films making however has to be Ridley Scott. The direction of the actors, the story, the themes and certainly the message to the audience seem utterly out of control. At times the film does steer in an engaging and thoughtful way, at first I thought Scott was trying to tell the story from Patrizia’s perspective as almost an anti-hero sort of film as the Gucci family are exposed for their snake like behaviour. The I thought Maurizio was to be the core of the film, how his love doomed the family and himself. But by the end of the picture everything had its 5 minutes and you aren’t sure of anything Scott was trying to say of the film other than he felt vaguely sympathetic for Patrizia.
The film for the most part is grounded and less camp than some of the trailers make out, at times Scott leans into the larger than life aspects and embellishes the scenes and performances to match. Often making for a ever shifting tone that as an audience member there are times you aren’t sure you are laughing at or with the film. House of Gucci lacks the swagger and engaging debauchery of the likes of The Wolf of Wall Street but it also lacks the finese, nuance and grounded telling of true events you find in most dramatic true stories. Sadly this one cannot be simply chalked up to the millennials and their short attention spans Mr. Scott. Here Scott has lost control of his actors and the narrative and while House of Gucci is still an interesting film with some fun and more comedy than you might expect, sadly it fails to live up to the real thing.