An exciting look behind the scenes at the famous Italian fashion house Gucci… would have Ridley Scott’s thriller drama HOUSE OF GUCCI can be. The end result is more like a mafia family epic. And that has both its bright and dark sides. We reveal more about this in our review.
OT: House of Gucci (CAN/USA 2021)
At the beginning of 1970, things began to simmer behind the scenes of the glamorous fashion house Gucci. The equally complex and opaque Patrizia Reggiani (Lady Gaga) meets and falls in love with Maurizio Gucci (Adam Driver) at a party. Knowing that he is one of the heirs to the luxury dynasty. In the years that followed, she repeatedly competed with the key figures in the family business for control and power. Including her own husband, his business-minded uncle Aldo (Al Pacino), his risk-taking cousin Paolo (Jared Leto) and his tradition-conscious father Rodolfo (Jeremy Irons)…
For director Ridley Scott, “House of Gucci” is the second major film production in 2021. And it comes out just a few weeks after his medieval MeToo drama “The Last Duel”, whose failure at the box office he recently discussed with reference to expressed the general disinterest of millennials. It is questionable whether the ignorance towards “The Last Duel” actually has something to do with an entire generation. Or whether the Adam Driver/Matt Damon vehicle simply fell victim to a terrible advertising campaign. Even in a metropolis like Hamburg with many cinemas, the last duel was only shown in a single cinema. It will therefore be very exciting to see whether the film will perhaps be able to achieve its triumphant advance via streaming. Because “The Last Duel” will be available to stream on Disney+ from December 1st. To what extent “House of Gucci” will suffer the same fate is hard to guess. But the fact is that the studio association made up of Universal Pictures and MGM spends significantly more advertising money to draw attention to the start of the family epic than Disney or 20th Century Studios did for “The Last Duel”. But is that enough to make “House of Gucci” a success?
Paolo (Jared Leto), Jenny (Florence Andrews), Maurizio (Adam Driver), Patrizia Reggiani (Lady Gaga) and Aldo Gucci (Al Pacino).
The “Captivating thrillers about family secrets, betrayal and a shocking murder”, which the USA press brochure for the film loudly announces, “House of Gucci” has only been successful to a limited extent. Family secrets, betrayal and a shocking murder actually exist. And the film can also be described as “captivating”. But in combination with the term “thriller”, “House of Gucci” is likely to ultimately raise false expectations. Instead of staging the family intrigue within the Italian fashion dynasty as a dark, mafia-like genre film (and the complications revealed over the course of the lush two and a half hours would definitely make for the latter!), the screenwriters chose Becky Johnston (“Seven Years in Tibet”) and Roberto Bentivegna for portraying the events within the Gucci clan as a largely superficial soap opera. This is to be understood as significantly less negative than it might seem at first glance. The film, which is full of shrill characters, is perfect for an over-the-top production on the verge of parody and satire, in which the interpersonal complications and differences that can be boiled down to the simplest conflicts are always played out a touch more dramatically than they should be is used to classic family dramas, but especially biopics. This can be seen using the example of Jares Leto’s smash-hit performance, who disappeared beyond recognition behind his mask (“Blade Runner 2049”) best illustrate. The Gucci upstart he portrayed, Paolo Gucci, was already an extremely eccentric, caricature-like figure during his lifetime, but despite everything, no less tragic. The fact that Leto, like all the other cast members, goes the extra mile to embody Paolo seems strange at first glance, but it fits perfectly with the interpretation of the film as a whole.
“The film, full of shrill characters, is perfect for an over-the-top production on the verge of parody and satire, in which the interpersonal complications and differences are played out a touch more dramatically than one is used to in classic family dramas.”
Adam Driver, who is in front of the camera for Ridley Scott for the second time in a row after “The Last Duel”. (“The Report”) On the other hand, he plays much more reservedly. Like everyone else, don’t bet on a less big game. The shyness he displays corresponds to a cliched portrayal of a wallflower; What Jared Leto consciously does “too much,” Driver consciously does “too little.” Not an omission, but a performance that serves the film just as much as the rest of the film with, among others, Al Pacino (“Once upon a Time in Hollywood”)Jeremy Irons (“Red Sparrow”) and Salma Hayek (“Killer’s Bodyguard”) equipped ensembles. Especially Lady Gaga (“A Star Is Born”) gets lost in the larger-than-life portrayal of the aloof Patrizia Reggiani, who makes the (intentional or unintentional) narrative gaps in “House of Gucci” her own. Her character, like everyone else, is surrounded by an aura of mystery. Nobody here ever reveals their innermost being. And some of the decisions made by the characters come so suddenly that as a viewer you even wonder whether you missed a certain detail. But there is a method to all of this: in the end it is up to the audience to interpret the motives for some actions. And so, for some people, person
Luxury fashion everywhere – but “House of Gucci” is anything but a “fashion film”.
Which “House of Gucci” is not only a thriller, but also not has become, is a fashion film or a film above Gucci as a luxury brand. And this despite the fact that the script occasionally throws in side notes that point to the shadow of the company that hovers over everything. However, this never comes to a satisfactory formulation. The stagnation in sales figures that began at the end of the 1980s and the associated search for new, young designers who would give the franchise a breath of fresh air are only worth mentioning in the script; And the great importance for the company of the persona Tom Ford (as a designer known, among other things, for his eye-catching glasses frames, but as a director especially for the Colin Firth drama “A Single Man”), who is allowed to have a brief encounter here, is likely to leave the uninitiated audience with question marks rather than new insights. While the company’s economic concerns still provide a background film noise, the artistic significance of the Gucci designs for the fashion world plays no role at all. The subplot surrounding Paolo Gucci would be an ideal opportunity to include this important part of a Gucci clan biopic in the film. After all, it is an open secret that Paolo’s unusual designs, which at the time did not fit the Gucci style, had a massive influence on the brand’s later direction. But the meaning of fashion itself ultimately plays no role at all in “House of Gucci”.
“What ‘House of Gucci’ hasn’t become apart from a thriller is a fashion film or a film about Gucci as a luxury brand.”
What’s more: “House of Gucci” sometimes even disenchants the brand. For example, when Patricia, by marriage, is the only one who is seriously angry that poor-quality Gucci fakes are being sold on the side of the road for $29.99. Instead of approval, she is met with indifference; If you want to live the Gucci lifestyle but can’t, you should fulfill your dream with a fake. For luxury labels, this is an advertising measure that should not be underestimated, but it is a slap in the face for all those who see fashion as a kind of art that not only wants to clothe people, but also tells a story. Meanwhile, Ridley Scott covers this in splendid images reminiscent of his work on “All the Money in the World” (camera: Dariusz Wolski), whose cool perfection immediately casts a spell over you. “House of Gucci” is undoubtedly great cinema. And somehow the implementation is successful despite the many weak points, as long as you accept that the film has many things not and what he is is so different than you would have expected.
Conclusion: “House of Gucci” is an exalted, glossy soap opera that is captivating, even though it neither works as a serious family epic nor as a crime film or even as a portrait of a fashion house. Rather, it is the elegant, pompous production, along with a self-confident trash charm that makes the two and a half hours fly by.
“House of Gucci” can be seen in USA cinemas nationwide from December 2nd, 2021.