FilmConvert’s Marketing Manager Henessey gives her two cents on where House of Gucci went wrong, and yes, this does contain spoilers.
The latest film by Ridley Scott House of Gucci, details the trials and tribulations of the luxury fashion house, Gucci. Based on the novel by Sara Gay Forden, the film follows the lives of Patrizia Reggiani and Maurizio Gucci, and their subsequent takeover of the company. What lies ahead is a story of betrayal, greed, and murder. The film garnered so much hype before it’s release due to it’s glamorous premise and high-profile cast, but it seemingly failed to live up to viewers’ expectations. So where did it all go wrong?
Let’s start off with the plot. The film focuses on Patrizia Reggiani (Lady Gaga), a woman working for her fathers trucking company, who soon meets Maurizio Gucci (Adam Driver), son of Rodolfo Gucci and subsequent heir to half of the Gucci empire. Patrizia and Maurizio eventually wed, despite Maurizio and other family members’ misgivings. After Maurizio’s father dies, Patrizia forges his signature to grant Maurizio half of Gucci. We then see Patrizia become increasingly power-hungry, coercing Aldo and Paulo (Al Pacino and Jared Leto) to relinquish their shares, to give her full control of Gucci. Italian police audit the company, forcing the family to fracture, and struggling to revitalize the Gucci brand. Patrizia’s obsession with controlling everything eventually leads to their divorce. Patrizia eventually hires a hitman to kill Maurizio.
The whole plot can be explained in a paragraph or less, yet Ridley Scott managed to turn this story into a three hour overdramatic and panderous void.
Of course, a film based on a book which is based on real events will have its own plot-holes, which is something that Scott battles with throughout. With a brand like Gucci, one might expect a more frivolous and rich storyline, exploring the depth of juicy stories and drama that unfolded at the time. However, the plot feels unfocused, dwelling far too often on inconsequential details and throwaway plot-points, while glossing over important details that give you some idea of what’s actually going on. Long-winded sex scenes and ten minute long conversations that have no relavance to the story are a favourite device by Scott, favoured over the likes of actually telling us who a character is and their relevance to the story. There are so many points where it doesn’t feel like the information isn’t propelling the story forward, but it’s more just filler because they didn’t know what else to put there.
Sitting at nearly three hours long, the story loses its charm quickly, and becomes a drag to watch. The sporadic pacing of the story makes it hard to follow and really connect with what’s being told. For instance, in the beginning, Lady Gaga’s character Patrizia finds out she’s pregnant, which then cuts to a throwaway scene with Jared Leto and Al Pacino, that then cuts back to Lady Gaga giving birth. The story moves from point A to point D, then to B and E, then C and back to A. It’s hard to follow what happens throughout because at times the scenes drag on for so long that you just lose interest. Important details like who a character is or what they do is glossed over so regularly, that it makes it hard to connect with them on a deeper level. You could tell at times they would try to implement ‘edgy’ filmmaking techniques, like when a scene would fade into black and white to try and replicate a photo from when the events actually happened, but all of it felt cheap and gimmicky. The jarring pacing overall makes it difficult to follow what is going on, and all of it could have been condensed down to a neat two hours if they had just trimmed the fat from it.
The biggest draw to this film was the cast. It features such big names such as Lady Gaga, Adam Driver, Al Pacino, Jeremy Irons, Jared Leto and more. Each member of the cast has their own stand-out moments, putting on a great performance at parts of the film. However, I believe that this star-studded cast actually hinders the overall story. Even though each character is donned in beautifully crafted costuming and hair/makeup, it doesn’t do enough to fool you that they’re actually the character. It feels too much like each performer is playing their character, rather than embodying it. Instead of there being Paolo Gucci, it’s Jared Leto playing Paolo Gucci. It’s actually difficult at points to remember the characters name. There wasn’t a moment where I could honestly associate who the character was, but just associate them with the actor who was playing them. At a certain point it just feels like Oscar bait and a pay-check, but who knows. Maybe I’m just a cynic who wasn’t captivated fully by the story to give it my un-devoted attention, or maybe it was just bad direction after all. But I do have to give credit where credit’s due, each performer did a good job with the script and direction they were given, if you can look past the terrible accents. But I just can’t stop thinking about how better the film could’ve been if they had cast more unknown performers, who would’ve gotten their big break from their roles.
However, there are some things that House of Gucci did right, the most notable of which being the costuming, to which Janty Yates helped pull the story out of the trenches. As the story revolves around Gucci from the late 1970’s to early 1990’s, Yates does an incredible job of taking inspiration from the Gucci archives, delivering outfits that are emblematic of what the characters would’ve worn in this time. An honorable mention must be given to Gaga and Driver’s iconic Après ski look’s (and Adam Driver all around in my humble opinion). There were some funny moments in the film as well, mainly from Jared Leto’s overtly camp performance of Paulo Gucci, however this is more of a case of laughing at him rather than with him. The film was so focused on itself and being a serious biopic of some form, that any slight form of humor provided some necessary relief, regardless of whether it was intended to be funny or not.
Overall, I think House of Gucci was fine. Was it great? No. But was it exceptionally bad? Sorta. I think the best way to describe it would be melodramatic. If the film had been condensed down to a shorter version that focused more acutely on defining its characters and motives, then it could have been more enjoyable. Knowing very little about the history of Gucci coming into this, I left, still not knowing very much about it. The pacing is off, the acting is commendable at times, but overall the whole film just feels like such a drag for very little reward. I don’t want to actively discourage anyone from watching the film, but rather prepare them for what is to come. If you have a spare three hours and want to see Lady Gaga try her hand at a very thick Italian accent, then I say go for it. But if you’re wanting to see a drama-filled story about love, passion, and greed, then I think you’re out of luck.
Personal Score: 4/10