Life is short. The time people have on planet Earth should be spent living life to the fullest and spending time committing to activities that bring happiness. This is why I suggest skipping the new two hour 40 minute Ridley Scott biopic HOUSE OF GUCCI, despite the substantial amount of talent involved. The movie boasts an all-star cast and one of the most prolific directors in Hollywood, yet never seems to bring the quality content that everyone expected from such a high-profile project. It could be perhaps the story which holds the movie back from being memorable — the whole runtime seems to be spent building up to the one interesting event that occurs at the very end of the film — but the true culprit seems to be a mix of the painfully dull writing and direction. Both are serviceable enough to keep the movie from being anything resembling horrible, but they are so average that the story of the Gucci legacy becomes about as interesting as skimming through a long scholarly essay on the subject.
The story of the Gucci family is a long and dramatic one, or so the HOUSE OF GUCCI movie expresses. It starts when Patrizia Reggiani (Lady Gaga), a woman working within her father’s modest garbage truck company, meets Maurizio Gucci (Adam Driver), the main heir to the Gucci house, during a lively club party. The two almost immediately hit things off due to Reggiani’s perseverance, and things escalate from there, resulting in their marriage and her inclusion into the business dealings of the rich family. However, it soon starts to become clear that love is not the only thing on Reggiani’s mind, and tensions begin between family members as she pushes her way further into the Gucci family’s dealings. The entire future of the Gucci dynasty becomes a game of corruption, greed and even murder.
The main reason to see HOUSE OF GUCCI is the acting. Lady Gaga commands the screen in a way that becomes unprecedented the more one thinks about her quick transition from pop stardom to A-list actress. She and Adam Driver, who brings his typical A-game, work wonders together and inject electricity in each scene they co-star in. The supporting work is strong as well, with veteran actors Jeremy Irons and Al Pacino delivering performances that remind the audience why they are some of the best actors alive . The only weak link in this regard is Jared Leto, who delivers an ambitious yet distracting performance that never fits in with the rest of the film. Leto attempts to bring a sort of comic relief to this heavily dramatic narrative, which has caused many critics to claim that HOUSE OF GUCCI is a campy and self-parodying biopic. If this is the case, then it does a terrible job at maintaining this tone for all of the characters, and if the movie is truly just a drama, as I believe it is, then the odd humor is a misguided attempt to add some flavor to an utterly tasteless film.
HOUSE OF GUCCI starts out on a positive note: most of the scenes near the beginning involve Gaga and Driver developing their romantic chemistry, and these scenes work beautifully due to the amazing performances. However, once the rest of the movie’s drama enters the picture and viewers find themselves wrapped up in a convoluted crime saga ripe with double-crossings and financial meetings, the film becomes difficult to sit through without checking the time or taking a nap. Ridley Scott’s direction doesn’t add much of anything to the picture either, proving that Scott only thrives if he has a quality script brought to his front doorstep. Add on top of this some very bland cinematography, underwhelming production design, and a horrible depiction of the passage of time within the movie, HOUSE OF GUCCI just turns into a typical biopic — not great, not horrible, but just a film that exists.
It really is a shame that HOUSE OF GUCCI comes across as such an average attempt to make the Goodfellas of the fashion world. Scott has come under fire recently for attacking Marvel superhero movies for their terrible scripts, which just seems ironic given every recent Marvel film has a better script than this hot mess. The movie excels at small things like costume design because, after all, it is about Gucci, but none of the technical aspects or stellar performances are enough to make the film interesting on a human level. The cardinal sin that HOUSE OF GUCCI commits is that the movie never gives the audience an insight into any of the characters’ true feelings or complexities. Viewers can see the events that supposedly occurred, but not once did I feel like I was delving into the thoughts of Reggiani or any of the Gucci family. Because of this, HOUSE OF GUCCI ends up feeling inferior to the Wikipedia entries of any of the real-life characters. Go read that instead, and save yourself some time and money.