by Miguel E. Rodriguez
Director: Ridley Scott
Cast: Lady Gaga, Adam Driver, Jared Leto, Al Pacino, Jeremy Irons, Salma Hayek
My Rating: 5/10
Rotten Tomatometer: 61%
PLOT: An outsider marries into the Gucci family, and her unbridled ambition triggers a downward spiral of betrayal, revenge, and violence.
Watching Ridley Scott’s House of Gucci was a curious experience. I could see glimmers of a great entertainment through bars of slow pacing, a meandering story, and unanswered questions. The performances are top-notch, no question, but they are at the service of a movie that doesn’t seem interested in meeting their level of passion.
Inspired by true events, the movie tells the story of Patrizia Reggiani, a young woman from humble beginnings who meets and eventually marries Maurizio (Adam Driver), one of the heirs to the Gucci fashion empire. Patrizia is played with fury and fire by Lady Gaga, who seems destined for another Oscar nomination. Her character is portrayed as a latter-day Lady Macbeth, someone who sees through the deceptions of her new husband’s business associates and manipulates people and events for her family’s benefit. In true tragic form, her ambitions threaten to derail everything she loves.
Adam Driver plays Maurizio as a rather slow fellow who disinherits himself so he can marry Patrizia but finds a way back into the fold via his uncle, Aldo (Al Pacino), who sees Maurizio as a good substitute for his own disappointing son, Paolo. Paolo is played by Jared Leto, in another of the film’s performances destined for Oscar recognition. Buried underneath flawless makeup and a skin cap, Leto portrays Paolo as a self-deluded buffoon whose fashion designs aren’t so much daring as unfortunate. (Apparently, pastels and brown were never meant to mix…who knew?)
I mention the performances because they are the sole highlights of the film. For two-and-a-half hours, these performances play against a backdrop of one dreary scene after another. Sure, the performances are fun to watch, but at the end of the day, if they don’t have anything interesting to say, it gets a little boring. We get behind-the-scenes intrigues and betrayals that seem to owe more than a little to earlier crime epics by Scorsese and Coppola, but there was nothing to get really excited about. Nothing grabbed me.
Ridley Scott’s films are normally way more imaginative than this. They look better. The cinematography is usually more inspired. I’m not talking about his action or sci-fi epics, either. I mean his small-scale triumphs like Matchstick Men or Thelma & Louise. What happened here? Was he not inspired by the story? There is great material here, more than enough back-stabbing and lying and cheating to go around. Yet everything is subdued, and plods, and inspires more yawns than anything else. I didn’t experience any kind of excitement or passion one way or the other for any of the characters, or for the story. It just didn’t make me care.
By the time House of Gucci is over, we’ve seen betrayals, marital infidelity, divorce, back-stabbing business deals, sex, and murder. I have a friend who wrote a stage play that has almost all of those things, and it was WAY more entertaining than this film.