Review by Dan Skip Allen
Stories about the origin and tragic fall of a famous family are nothing new in Hollywood. As books are written or people pass away from one thing or another, these types of stories get brought to the big or small screen. In the case of House of Gucci, it's not the first film or television project about a famous fashion designer, and probably won't be the last.
Young Maurizio Gucci (Adam Driver) is an innocent law student in Italy when he catches the eye of Patrizia Reggiani (Lady Gaga) at a nightclub one evening. She's the daughter of a garbage truck mogul. They eventually hit it off and become romantically linked despite the efforts of his father Rodolfo Gucci (Jeremy Irons) to stop the relationship. His uncle, Aldo Gucci (Al Pacino) takes him under his wing to show him the fashion side of the Gucci business. He takes his now-wife Patrizia along with him to New York. This is the beginning of the end for this thriving family.
Ridley Scott has had a long and storied career in filmmaking since the late '70s and early '80s. His films range from Alien to Blade Runner to Gladiator. This year he's got two awards contenders on his hands — The Last Duel and House of Gucci — each with big-name casts. Both are distinctly different from anything he's done in the past. House of Gucci isn't his first biopic either. American Gangster was a big hit back in 2007. He's aiming for another with his latest film.
Besides the aforementioned cast members, there is also another actor known for immersing himself in his characters. He'll put on a lot of makeup, or in the case of House of Gucci, prosthetics. Paolo Gucci (Jared Leto) is a dim-witted fool with a gift for designing clothes. Leto is unrecognizable as this character, but he has a lot in the script to do despite being unrecognizable. He's like a court jester or a Fredo to put a Godfather reference to good use.
On those lines, the clothes and hairstyles match the aesthetic of the film. The setting of the '80s is very well fleshed out on screen. The scenes in Italy and New York City seem very authentic. Seeing as this story wasn't that long ago, the film looks like it's set in the modern-day even though this took place four decades ago. The crafts departments were on point in House of Gucci as they were in Scott's other 2021 film, The Last Duel. The filmmaking style is very solid.
(L-R) Jared Leto stars as Paolo Gucci, Florence Andrews as Jenny Gucci, Adam Driver as Maurizio Gucci, Lady Gaga as Patrizia Reggiani and Al Pacino as Aldo Gucci in Ridley Scott’s HOUSE OF GUCCI, a Metro Goldwyn Mayer Pictures film Photo credit: Courtesy of Metro Goldwyn Mayer Pictures Inc. © 2021 Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures Inc. All Rights Reserved.
As with all films set in a specific period, it's nice to see music in the film from the '80s. Blondie, The Eurythmics, and George Michael songs ring throughout the film. The entire soundtrack is on point in the film. The score by Harry Gregson Williams is very good as well.
A framing device alludes to an ominous event about to happen at the beginning of the film but doesn't eventually happen until the end. Even though this film and story are based on real events, it's good that Scott and the writers, Becky Johnston and Roberto Bentivegna, were able to flesh out the main story of a jilted lover seeking retribution on her husband that she perceived he did wrong. That's a pretty simple story when it's all said and done.
The power struggle between the members of this rich family is another key aspect of the film. As it's said in Wall Street by Gordan Gecko, "Greed, for lack of a better word, is good." It kind of reminds me of Rome at its height before the fall. Well, maybe a little too much greed isn't good for everybody. A subplot about cheap knock-off bags proves that. The knock-offs were making millions for the family, so who cares if they are being sold as legitimate Gucci bags if the family was getting rich off of them. Some things should be left alone.
House of Gucci was being hailed as an Oscar contender and this year and after seeing it, I have no reason to dissuade those thoughts. This film has brilliant performances from Gaga and Driver, while Leto is crazy good as well. The soundtrack, story, and overall look of the film are all solid. This film has one flaw and it's the length. Some of the meandering scenes of Driver's character could have been cut from the film. That's a small flaw though. Otherwise, this is a solid biopic about the fall of a great fashion designer family.
House of Gucci hits theaters on November 24.