House of Gucci

Directed By Ridley Scott

Starring – Lady Gaga, Adam Driver, Al Pacino

The Plot – Inspired by the family empire behind the Italian fashion house of Gucci. When Patrizia Reggiani (Gaga), an outsider from humble beginnings, marries into the Gucci family, her unbridled ambition begins to unravel the family legacy and triggers a reckless spiral of betrayal, decadence, revenge, and ultimately…murder.

Rated R for adult language, some sexual content, and brief nudity and violence.

HOUSE OF GUCCI | Official Trailer | MGM Studios – YouTube


– Performances, Part One. “House of Gucci” is a film that’s ambition and prominence rests solely on the shoulders of its gifted ensemble, and three such actors rise to the occasion for such a requirement. Al Pacino turns in his best work in decades, balancing a genuine tenderness with these fiery moments of release that simultaneously outline the highs and low’s of his character’s mental and monetary imbalance, the longer the film persists. In addition to him, Adam Driver is another nourishment to the film’s beneficial circumstance, handing in the single best evolutionary arc for a character deposited throughout the film, and one who stands as a metaphorical representation for all of the greed, lust, and deception that embodies this family’s financial wealth and public admiration. Finally, the often understated but appreciated Jack Huston as Domenico De Sole, the Gucci family lawyer, feels like the heart and humanity in the entirety of the experience. Huston’s subdued expressions as an impartial presence never omit the charm of his deliveries, instead supplanting a suave sophistication that really does serve as the heart for this family’s public engagements, and one that Huston uses to more than carry his weight against a gauntlet of big name heavyweights that he constantly interacts with.

– Bold production. Whether in the stylistic evolving of the Gucci signature style in wardrobe, or the transformative quality attained by make-up and prosthetics that obscure familiarity, there’s a rich stroke of authenticity deposited to the engagement that proves Scott and company did their homework in fleshing out the defined characteristics of the Gucci backstory. On the former, the range between classy threads and expressional vibrance visually convey the influential approach from the ever-changing dynamic of those in charge of the brand, all the while eliciting more than a few outdated concepts from the catalog that are recreated seamlessly by longtime Ridley Scott collaborator, Janty Yates. As for the make-up and prosthetics, there’s a lot of ambition, but also a lot of realism to the designs granted to Pacino or Jared Leto that allow them to nearly disappear seamlessly before our very eyes. It’s not only remarkable for their similarities in the likenesses to their respective characters, but also all the more impressive because they were molded in good old-fashioned practicality, proving that money spent truly is money earned, and we see it each time these two actors invade our screen.

– Culturally rich score. Music composer Harry Gregson-Williams prescribes geographic influence to a score that is every bit as expansive as it is periodically nostalgic. An example of such would pertain to scenes in Italy carrying with them an accordion or organ piano to capture the flare and personality of the Italian countryside, which transcribes itself so beautifully to the luxurious imagery of the movie’s initial opening act. From there, the story evolves to New York City during the heart of the 80’s, where new wave has taken over, and we the audience are treated to a variety of synth-heavy delves that never repeat, nor feel derivative of the complete picture to which they’re summarized. It makes this some of the more challenging work of Harry’s iconic career, in that it feels so unlike anything that he’s previously materialized, making for an absorbing score that works so candidly with these various engagements.

– Superior first half. While the two-and-a-half hour runtime eventually led to condemning problems in storytelling that halted the momentum of its pacing almost entirely, I can say that the first half of the film values these minutes in a way that attains compelling characterization in the dynamic of these many interactions. This is where exposition gives way to many ensuing subplots pertaining to young love, subliminal family tensions, and how Patrizia used both to sink her hooks into the lifeline of this wealthy family with no shortage of vulnerability to the irony of their untouchable circumstance. In turn, we’re not only able to see how every character changes because of the aspects of influence that alter their dwindling perceptions, but every motivation feels grounded in the kind of believability that we can coherently interpret, establishing layers within an intriguing introduction that should’ve set the pace for one anxiety-riddled rollercoaster that it unfortunately never became.



– Tonal imbalance. Even as I sit here two hours after the film, I still can’t fully comprehend what kind of film Scott was reaching for in fleshing out this story. On one hand is the film we were promised; a scintillating slow-burn crime drama, whose intentions remain pure and full of stakes and consequences inside of gripping tensions and mounting litigation. On the other, a trashy soap opera, in which the characters and their direction feel catered for comedy, whether intentional or not. This is especially surprising for Scott, whom while he does have some bad films to his record, has never felt this incoherent with regards to the defining characteristics of a film that should go easily without overstating. It often makes “House of Gucci” feel like two entirely different films fighting for creative consciousness, where overindulgence is exceeded by clairvoyent psychic’s, flat dramatic emphasis, and Jared Leto going into business for himself with a performance that is just as condemning to the tone of a film as his work as Joker during “Suicide Squad”.

– Performances, Part Two. Speaking of Leto, he serves as the perfect encompassing for everything that didn’t work about the other half of the gifted ensemble that constantly under-delivered. Part of the problem is certainly Leto’s approach to the character, bottling with it a cheesy Italian accent and eccentric deliveries that feel like a child in a man’s body, but for my money it was Leto’s constantly improper timing that dwindled away my interest for the intent of the narrative, and made him stand out for all of the wrong reasons. Equally as tragic is the work of Gaga, who while a compelling presence on-screen with facial resonation that details the internal fire burning from within, it’s her emotional range here that remains constantly subdued, made worse by an Italian accent that deviates consistently between Brazilian and Russian, and is all the more distracting because of it. Gaga never made this movie her own, which could’ve created a template for another deserved Oscar nomination, but instead leads to the first tragic misfire in her youthful cinematic career, but one that thankfully has the awfulness of Jared Leto to at least take silver from.

– Horrendous editing. Even outside of the inconsistency of the acting itself, the film suffers from an abundance of technical issues, particularly the editing, that makes the pacing feel every minute of the 151 minute run time that we’re saddled with. Instead of the storytelling being streamlined to constantly elevate with the passage of time, we’re given a series of shifts that convey one big event after another, without the subtlety of the down moments to build their anticipation along the way. Also evident are these abrupt time shifts forward that persevere without any inkling of evidence in text or transition that could’ve shouldered the blow of some confusing visuals in scenes that directly contradict the previous ones. In one second, Patrizia announces her pregnnancy, and in the very next she’s holding a baby that is somewhere between 5-8 months old. It’s all as a result of choppy editing consistency that leads to no shortage of logic-leaping instances for the audience to overcome, and gifting us a bizarre framing of this intoxicating story that feels like it’s being told from the perspective of a coma patient.

– Problematic cinematography. It’s not often that I complain about the particular style granted to a film’s visual identity, but so much of the color correction in the presentation simply wasn’t working for the magnitude of the material permeating on-screen. Because this is a movie pertaining to fashion, especially the Gucci’s generational stylistic impulses, the magnitude and appeal of their fabric intoxication and luxurious lifestyles are drastically undercut with a dull and lifeless grey aesthetic that feels like it was directly ripped from a season of American Crime Story. I can understand that the intention is out abbreviate as much of the darkness surrounding this family and their eventual demise, but it comes at a cost to the breathtaking threads created from Janty Yates, and on its own disappoints with a presentation that echoes the boredom from its distracted storytelling. This is where the film’s overindulgence should’ve lent itself to entrancing the allure of its products, corresponding in a way that intentionally makes each of them pop in the glow of their appearance, but instead those who never experienced it are left ambiguous at just what about it was so appealing to a generation of fashion guru’s.

– Inferior second half. Once the credits appeared, and saved me from the peril of everything aforementioned, I couldn’t escape this tedious feeling that sprung from a bloated final forty minutes that introduced far more aspects than it resolved. Even during the final minutes of the film, we’re sifting through a deteriorating marriage, a financial betrayal, a surmising arc involving Salma Hayek’s psychic character, and a temporary delve into the courtroom, which only serves meaning to give Gaga another line that the production can use to shoe-horn into the marketing trailers. Too many distractions lead to too many hinderances on what did actually work, and that’s the gripping drama unwrapping itself between Gaga and Driver’s characters. It spends the bulk of its ambitious run time on characters and subplots that it actually doesn’t need to, and results in an overall experience that diminished possibilities in a climax so under-emphasized by Scott’s direction that it just further feeds into the blandness of this tragically missed opportunity.

My Grade: 4/10 or D

One thought on “House of Gucci

  1. After seeing your last comment, I was excited to see what your thoughts were and I’m surprised to say their perspectives are neck and neck. The one and only thing I disagree on is the acting since I personally didn’t think there was a weak performance. Maybe over the top and misdirected, but I do think the effort from the entire cast is there. Beyond that though, this was incredibly disappointing. Between the tone of the film which feels so undecided, the direction which lacks confidence, and the entire presentation with the editing and camerawork (like you mentioned), I could not believe that this was coming from such a seasoned director. I’m equally baffled as too what he was trying to go for, because the whole film is at odds with itself. I can’t say it’s among the worst I’ve seen this year, but definitely one of the most underwhelming. Fantastic work!

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