When looking for a warm, cozy movie about love and family to watch with your loved ones during the holiday season, the story of the infamous Gucci family and their fashion empire doesn’t seem like an obvious choice, and yet it was one of the most anticipated films of the Thanksgiving weekend.
But “House of Gucci” tries its best to be a movie all about the family, which brings with it some of the best aspects of the ultimate misfire in the biopic genre. On the one hand, you have phenomenal actors hamming it up as the bigger-than-life billionaires to mostly great effect. But on the other hand, so much is included that didn’t need to be here that the focus is both everywhere and nowhere in particular.
Director Ridley Scott has enough talent and experience in his nearly 50 years in the business to know how to make this type of movie, but whether it was the screenplay, the impacts of COVID or something else entirely, the final result is an entertaining yet occasionally slow big-screen soap opera.
As a huge Hollywood picture with an all-star cast that is stylistically one of the best-looking movies of the year, it won’t be surprising to see “House of Gucci” picking up a few awards nominations in the coming months — and maybe a surprise acting award or two. For the casual moviegoer, however, wait until you can watch it for free on your streaming service or TV.
Set over the course of 17 years — the movie’s first mistake — the story follows Patrizia Reggiani (portrayed by Lady Gaga), who as an outsider from humble beginnings meets and ultimately falls in love with Maurizio Gucci (Adam Driver). With a tense relationship with his father, Rodolfo Gucci (Jeremy Irons), Maurizio decides to leave his family fortune behind to marry Patrizia.
However, it isn’t long until Maurizio’s uncle Aldo Gucci (Al Pacino) reaches out to the couple, inviting them into his half of the empire and encouraging them to become a part of the family business with all the lavash parties, studio apartments and designer clothes they want.
But as Maurizio’s unbridled ambition begins to threaten the fashion business, her meddling pits Maurizio, Aldo and Aldo’s son Paolo (Jared Leto) against each other. The ongoing fighting triggers a reckless spiral of betrayal, decadence, revenge and, ultimately, murder.
If you’re going to do a movie about the Gucci family, it had better look the part, and thankfully style over substance is one of the main reasons to see this one on the big screen. It’s no surprise that the costumes would of course be gorgeous, but all of the sets and camera work equally live up to that extravagant lifestyle most of us have only seen in magazines.
The people occupying those places, however, are another story. With all these American actors and the British Irons putting on such cartoony Italian accents, the film goes back and forth between campy caricatures and serious drama on a whim.
The biggest of these performances comes from Leto, donning several hours of hair and makeup prosthetics to the spoiled and balding Paolo that transforms him into a cartoon character more than a real person. It’s either the best performance of the year or the worst, and I can’t figure out which yet.
At nearly 2 hours 40 minutes long, “House of Gucci” tries to cram the entirety of Patrizia and Maurizio’s love story from start to finish into this runtime, but by also trying to feature so much of the rest of the family and the company’s history, nothing is given enough time or attention to pack a punch.
Picking one five-year period to focus on or going back and forth between the first few years and last few years to show the contrast of the family’s love at the start and end of the story could have done wonders.
Thankfully, the one thing that is consistently great throughout is Lady Gaga’s intoxicating performance that I predict is going to grab her several nominations for Best Actress. Even if she doesn’t, her command of every scene and her devious charm that oozes off the screen is worth every minute of this rollercoaster ride.