Film review | Ridley Scott’s ‘House of Gucci’ falls flat – Times-Standard
There are several paths a filmmaker could take to tell the story of the Gucci family, the clan behind the Italian haute couture brand of the same name.
Ridley Scott neither goes down.
Not smart enough to be really interesting and not vulgar enough to be guilty pleasure, his “House of Gucci” is about as bland as a story involving ambition, greed, betrayal and even murder can be.
It’s sleek, this avant-garde film, and it’s got a lot for the eyes to absorb, from its Milanese exteriors and snapshots of the Italian Dolomites mountain range (replacing the Alps) to its cast of stars like Adam. Driver, Al Pacino, Jeremy Irons and, last but not least, pop star Lady Gaga.
The presence of the “A Star Is Born” star – who puts all she has in the role of the devious Patrizia Reggiani, who is getting married into the family – may be enough for some.
But if neither she nor the fashion world moves much for you, âHouse of Gucciâ doesn’t offer much on what appears to be more than its roughly two and a half hours.
It begins in 1978 in Milan – and would run through the mid-1990s, with Scott helping us find our times again and again through his use of era pop songs – with our introduction to Patrizia, whose curvaceous figure pleases a group of men working on the city streets.
Ultimately, however, she’s no one, but the seeds to change that fact are planted when she meets Driver’s Maurizio Gucci at a party.
Maurizio is studying law and is not at all interested in ever running the Gucci Empire – a responsibility which, for the time being, is shared by two older men.
Maurizio’s father is the prudent and conservative Rodolfo (Irons), one of the two sons of company founder Guccio Gucci. On the other hand, Rodolfo’s brother, Aldo (Pacino) is colorful and has very different ideas about where the company should go.
For Rodolfo, less is more; for Aldo, more is more.
Maurizio needs a little nudge from Patrizia to invite him out – and it’s only after she engages in a slight harassment to meet him a second time. She writes her number in lipstick on the windshield of her motorbike, and the two soon share a calzone and a kiss.
He quickly falls in love with her, an evolution that displeases his father, who forbids Maurizio to marry her, Rodolfo fearing that she is mainly interested in money.
Marry her, he does, and walk away from the family they become. That is until Aldo works to reunite father and son when he visits his base of operations in New York City for his own birthday celebration.
Aldo has tensions with his own son, Paolo (an unrecognizable Jared Leto), who dreams of becoming a fashion designer – a problem because only he believes he has the talent for it. (A scene in which Irons asks him to make sure that no one ever sees the drawings Paolo just showed him is one of the few highlights of the film.)
Alliances are formed and evolve over the course of âHouse of Gucciâ, with Patrizia often at the center of these developments. At his request, Maurizio became more and more interested in the company and, as time progressed, wielded more and more power within it.
Other key players include Jack Huston (“American Hustle”), as financial advisor to the family, Domenico De Sole; Salma Hayek (“The Eternals”), as Pina Auriemma, a medium who becomes Patrizia’s close friend and advisor; and Camille Cottin, as Paola Franchie (“Stillwater”), a childhood friend of Maurizio whose reconnection with him threatens Patrizia.
The best performances are provided by Lady Gaga and Irons (HBO’s “Watchmen”), with Driver (“Marriage Story”) giving a professional effort if nothing more.
And while he’s clearly been a great many times, veteran actor Pacino (âThe Godfather,â âScent of a Womanâ) is in stage chewing mode here. It is a huge but empty presence.
However, the real issue is with Leto, as a bald and slightly plump Paolo he is an embarrassing and cartoonish creation. We probably have to spread the blame for this silly character, as the film’s production notes suggest the actor really didn’t want anything like himself in âHouse of Gucci,â and makeup artists and prosthodontists forced him to. Someone – maybe Scott – had to stop this.
In his’ 80s, Scott (“Alien”, “Gladiator”, “The Martian”) continues to be a busy and impressive filmmaker – his rather strong “The Last Duel” hit theaters only a few months ago – and he rarely offers a clunker like “Gucci”.
According to the notes, Scott’s production company Scott Free has acquired the rights to the feature film Sara Gay Forden’s non-fiction book “The House of Gucci: A Sensational Story of Murder, Madness, Glamor and Greed” from 2001 shortly after its publication. Additionally, the notes indicate that Scott’s wife Giannina – one of the producers – was taken with the family history and led the charge of the acquisition.
Maybe that’s why “House of Gucci” – written by screenwriters Becky Johnston and Roberto Bentivegna – looks more like Scott crossing off an item from his to-do list than a movie he was inspired to make. .
âHouse of Gucciâ is rated R for language, certain sexual content, and brief nudity and violence. Duration: 2 hours 38 minutes.