Sir Ridley Scott is 83 years old. In just the past decade he directed not one, but two incredibly polarizing prequels to his defining film Alien. He tried his hand at a biblical epic. He reshot major portions of a film just weeks before release. Even this year, he’s made one of the most hotly contested films of recent memory, The Last Duel. Age has not slowed the man one bit, and House of Gucci is further proof of the man’s vigor.
Well, folks, it looks Scott is going to have two of the most polarizing films of 2021. Highly anticipated, House of Gucci is a daunting affair. Not only for the 157 minute runtime, but the sheer amount of talent involved. Not least of which is Lady Gaga, coming hot off her much lauded turn in A Star is Born. Therefore, seeing him and his cast make their next film a high camp soap opera is… pretty damn admirable.
Based on a true story, House of Gucci centers around Patrizia Reggiani (Lady Gaga), a social climber who meets her match in bachelor Maurizio Gucci (Adam Driver). It’s instant head-over-heels love, leading to Reggiani marrying into the Gucci dynasty. However, her ambition moves faster than the family’s, leading to her to cause a fracture within the Gucci empire and even with her own husband. As times get desperate, Reggiani must take decisive action that will lead to deadly consequences.
Clearly, the talk of the town of House of Gucci is going to be its performances. Adam Driver is the unconventionally suave presence we know him to be. Jeremy Irons kills as patriarch Rodolfo. But that’s not what we’re here for, now is it? If you’re reading this review, you want to know about the big guns. The illustrious showings from the likes of Gaga, Jared Leto, and Al Pacino. Go in with the right mindset, and you will not be disappointed.
Lady Gaga’s Patrizia Reggiani is pure cinema pastiche. Her ridiculous Italian accent envelopes her character whole, making her into a cartoonish femme fatale archetype. Now, that’s not a bad thing whatsoever. Gaga knows exactly what she’s doing, making for a lovely anchor to this sordid saga. Portraying company figurehead Aldo Gucci, Al Pacino goes full Pacino. Bug-eyed, insanely watchable- you know the deal by now. Yet, I’d be remiss to not be effusive in praise for Jared Leto in this picture.
Portraying enfant terrible of the Gucci family, eccentric designer Paolo, Leto absolutely goes for it. A clown utilized as the constant punching bag of the Guccis, Paolo is played like a drunken Mario brother. And you just can’t take your eyes off of him! Gaga, Pacino, and, of course, Leto form a Holy Trinity of bombast that holds House of Gucci together. And why shouldn’t they? After all, the energy of the film matches them entirely.
Dariusz Wolski’s decadent visuals capture the flair of high society life ranging from the 70s to the 90s. Copious needle drops keep the beat going. Where most are likely to take issue are the screenplay, written by Becky Johnston and Roberto Bentivegna, and the editing by Claire Simpson. These aspects of the film are languid, prone to drag, and have no strong sense of pace.
For a lot of viewers, that’ll be a turn-off. It feels like a whole season of, get used to me using this phrase, a soap opera crammed into one film. If that’s not a turn off to you, welcome! The salacious, frequently trashy thrills of House of Gucci are plentiful. Sex. Business. Espionage. Murder. Ridley Scott goes full exploitation mode, resulting in a frequently unwieldly film that is a straight-up delight to endure.
Is House of Gucci a good movie? There’s no such thing as an objective “good” movie. All there is in film is what you personally enjoy. And House of Gucci is a blast and then some! It’s a total mess in a lot of ways, and those ways only feed into what makes this movie destined to be seen as a camp classic. After many see the film, their early Oscar buzz may be deflated. To hell with that, this cast and crew deserves accolades for even trying. Ridley Scott is clearly having fun here, so we should be too. –James Preston Poole
House of Gucci is in theaters Friday, November 26.