House of Gucci Review: Hell hath no fury like a 'fashionably ferocious' Lady Gaga scorned

House of Gucci

House of Gucci Cast: Lady Gaga, Adam Driver, Jared Leto, Al Pacino, Salma Hayek

House of Gucci Director: Ridley Scott

House of Gucci Stars: 3/5

Father, son and House of Gucci.” Ridley Scott’s absurd true-crime drama about Maurizio Gucci’s assassination orchestrated by his wife Patrizia Reggiani, House of Gucci, was infused with sparkling cinematic light, thanks to the casting coup of the decade. Starring the whimsical pairing of Lady Gaga and Adam Driver as the megalomaniac couple, the Gucci family’s bloody history sees the day on the big screen, but does it deliver on its giant expectations? Let’s find out!

Based on Sara Gay Forden’s The House of Gucci: A Sensational Story of Murder, Madness, Glamour, and Greed, we’re shown the steady rise and drastic fall of the Gucci family at the hands of the power-hungry members themselves. From her dazzling opening sequence, we knew Lady Gaga as Patrizia Reggiani was going to be the true showstopper of this gruesome fashion show as she struts her way in an impeccably fitted skirt while workers wolf whistle at her, increasing the pep in every step. Daughter of a truck business owner, Patrizia seductively waltzes her way into the feeble, nerdy Maurizio Gucci’s heart, son of Gucci’s Rodolfo Gucci (Jeremy Irons) and future heir to the respectable fashion brand.

Against his father’s demands to not marry who he feels is nothing but a “gold digger,” Maurizio enthusiastically ties the knot with Patrizia, but not before a tantalising sex sequence in the Reggiani office which highlights how lust played a key role in their doomed from the start relationship. While Maurizio wants absolutely no part in the Gucci business (the lad would rather be a lawyer instead!), Patrizia finds an ally in Rodolfo’s flamboyant brother Aldo Gucci (Al Pacino), who convinces the couple to aid him in his half of the Gucci business because his own blood, Paolo Gucci (Jared Leto), is well, is the mere definition of tomfoolery.

However, the innate greed and lust for power are evident in every key ‘Gucci’ player and they make the grave mistake of trying to betray the other for sole ownership when all they had to really do was work in tangent with each other. While Maurizio and Patrizia are a well-oiled machine at the beginning with the former following his wife’s calculative commands begrudgingly, standing against his own flesh and blood, he simultaneously also sees Patrizia’s manipulative personality in stark contrast to the woman he fell in love with. Pushing her husband to his intrusive limits, we’re shown the slow burn dismantling of a complicated marriage as Maurizio transforms into 180 and shows off his hidden rich heir shenanigans, including an eventual affair with his childhood friend, Paola Franchi (Camille Cottin). 

In one subtle yet impactful sequence in House of Gucci, we see the two bickering over something as simple as enunciations with Maurizio’s sly remarks piercing Patrizia’s ego like a knife. What’s worse? A Bloomingdale’s gift card as a Christmas present! Oh, the horror! As they say, hell hath no fury for a transformative Maurizio like a woman scorned and when it’s a ‘fashionably ferocious’ Lady Gaga, you know you’re in for a wild, wild ride of macabre consequences. To see the overconfident Maurizio being taught a lesson in the world of business of not trusting anyone, you realise how foolish he was to think that he was the mastermind behind getting his hands on Gucci to himself and not Patrizia.

As I mentioned above, Gaga absolutely devours the audience with her delectable performance in House of Gucci and is an acting force to reckon with, irrespective of the cartoonish, overtly dramatic Italian accent (as is mostly everyone’s who is American!) which is forgivable, given the atrocious intensity of the real-life tragic Gucci story. Besides fitting like a glove in costume designer Janty Yates’s provocatively classy Gucci attires, Gaga manages to seamlessly convey Patrizia’s conflicted state of mind where she never gives you a chance to loathe her for her imminent murderous actions. Matching exquisitely with Gaga’s theatrics is Adam Driver’s subdued act as we see a calculative shift in Maurizio’s entire personality, like an ‘on’ switch, which shows us the Gucci heir’s true colours.

When together, Gaga and Driver are a match made in unconventional cinematic heaven as they play off of each other’s exciting, nervous energies. It’s also a remarkable sight to see what led Patrizia to orchestrate her own husband’s murder and makes you wonder if she ever really loved him or was it just to attain the prestigious ‘Gucci’ name. Portrayed as the real brain behind the couple, Patrizia’s constant belittling at the hands of the Gucci family members in a man’s, man’s, man’s world comes as a recurring afterthought throughout House of Gucci.

While Pacino and a barely recognisable Leto don’t really get much solo time to beam, although that doesn’t stop them from delivering brilliant performances, it’s their hilariously satirical sequences together that was a personal highlight for me. The elaborate digs by Aldo for Paolo’s dunce behaviour is plain old cheeky fun. Salma Hayek (who the actress is married to is an ironical casting coup in itself!) as Giuseppina Auriemma, a TV psychic who co-conspires Maurizio’s murder with Patrizia, adds a spunky tune to the dramatic mix, especially during her scheming sequences with Gaga. Jack Huston as Domenico De Sole as Aldo and Maurizio’s right-hand man also impresses with his mysterious act.

Many big fashion names like Tom Ford (Reeve Carney) and Anna Wintour (Catherine Walker) are sprinkled as throwaway ‘Easter Egg’ characters with mostly drab impersonations. Set between the 70s and 90s, Arthur Max’s intricate production design is nothing short of spectacular as we’re shown the bricky delightful architecture of Italy alongside the luxurious fashionable streets of New York. Harry Gregson-Williams oscillates between operatic drama score and David Bowie and Blondie classics to add the d in drama.

ALSO READ: PHOTOS: Lady Gaga, Adam Driver, Jared Leto & Salma Hayek DAZZLE at glitzy House of Gucci premiere in London

Coming to the cons, while Ridley may have seemed to be inspired by Ryan Murphy’s true-crime genius mindset, he doesn’t approach the ludicrous Gucci history in an outlandish, scandalous light like the latter and rather focuses on establishing a leisurely pace, at two hours and 40 minutes runtime. Becky Johnston and Roberto Bentivegna inconsistent screenplay takes the cast’s undeniable talent for granted and delivers a hazy sketch of House of Gucci. While some dialogues are bang on the sensational money, many fall flat on the handsome, gorgeous faces. Moreover, the anti-climatic ending with Maurizio’s death doesn’t leave an ever-lasting impact like it was teased to seem. Dariusz Wolski’s gorgeous cinematography is imbalanced by Claire Simpson impromptu editing that makes you feel how House of Gucci would have been a better fit as a limited series, rather than a really long movie.

Nevertheless, with an almost-perfect showing by the ensemble, House of Gucci still manages to leave you hooked, line and sinker. And while it may seem bittersweet that not a single Gucci family member currently owns Gucci, after watching House of Gucci, it makes complete sense why.



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