After that raucous House of Gucci trailer perked up my interest in a story that wouldn’t usually capture my attention, I was all set for diving into this Blu-ray. When you’re injecting the energy of Lady Gaga, Adam Driver and Al Pacino, as well as Ridley Scott directing, you’re hopeful for a good story, as he’s a filmmaker who knows how to take that on for all levels of audience.
Based on the novel, The House of Gucci: A Sensational Story of Murder, Madness, Glamour, and Greed by Sara Gay Forden, the film has been on Scott’s radar for a while now, after it was recommended by his wife Giannina Facio. With a screenplay by Becky Johnston and Roberto Bentivegna, House of Gucci is inspired by the true story behind the iconic Italian fashion label and family, which follows Patrizia Reggiani (brilliantly portrayed by Lady Gaga), who comes from humble, hard-working origins and marries into the Gucci family, after she meets Maurizio Gucci (Adam Driver) at a friend’s party, and they hit it off.
After a passionate opening, which settles you into their characters, the key story revolves around Patrizia and Maurizio and, very particularly, Patrizia’s ambition for Maurizio to not only take a stronger hold of the Gucci brand, but also to drive out the dated elements of the family legacy and bring it forward to the modern world. Of course, this creates an unsettling storm for those being pushed out, which in turn unravels historic connections that evolves a hurricane of betrayal, revenge, obsession and (shockingly) murder.
While Gaga and Driver lead the way and create an intriguing power couple of trust and mistrust, they’re amongst a clever cast that includes Al Pacino as Aldo Gucci, an elder statesman, who gives a first-class performance for his character’s rise and fall; Jeremy Irons as Rodolfo Gucci, the father of Maurizio who is in ill health; and Salma Hayek as Giuseppina “Pina” Auriemma, a key figure in the life of Patrizia, which you’ll come to learn about.
Jared Leto gives his strongest performance since Dallas Buyers Club as Paolo Gucci, who is unrecognisable (and I mean it) as the outsider brother of the Gucci family. For me, he’s far stronger as a tragic character than when trying to portray power. And although his Italian accent is reasonably okay, he does fall foul of dropping into a ‘Mario’ type caricature voice, which gets a little grating, despite a decent balance of comic and sadness amongst his journey.
Make no mistake, Lady Gaga is the star of the show and at the centre. From her normal life to falling into a world of power and possibility, she’ll do anything to make her family strong, and try to push Gucci somewhere else. It’s a phenomenal performance, with passion, drama, truth and strength throughout – plus a noticeable signature dance twist in her movement, which is shown throughout her changing life. Adam Driver is also great – offering a mix of innocence and gravitas over the years, that switches from an inner strength to an outward one, as the film shifts from Gaga to Driver in the latter third.
But for all the entertaining performances, if it wasn’t for the central two, there’s also a lot of silliness occurring. While there’s a continual deep, dark level of humour, and this is a tragic story really, the levels of accents, and the huge unbalance there, is distracting amongst the Shakespearean drama. I don’t mind people choosing a slightly false accent, if everyone is on the same page, but many accents slip quite regularly. Also, despite Dariusz Wolski’s cinematography offering a stylish palette that reflects the Gucci name, and the Italian drama sparkling in chic locations, that world is sometimes let down by heavy scenes played out a little ridiculously with drama that doesn’t quite balance, considering this is based on real, human lives.
Overall, House of Gucci is an easy watch, and you can see why Gaga fans think she deserved nominations for the big awards, but it never quite balances out, or is as razor-sharp, as I hoped it’d be and that flavour of soap-star caricature takes over too often to be taken too seriously.
The Blu-ray does have a nice selection of extras, although more would be welcome, beginning with The Lady of the House, which shows us Ridley’s desire to involve Lady Gaga, and we learn of her deep-dive research on the character, her casting, that side of the insight and filmmaking process with along with getting the fashion side of things right because, after all, this is Gucci.
There’s more insight with The Rise of the House of Gucci, which tells me us about how the story came to be, and how he developed it and then also Styling House of Gucci, which is about getting that look right, which included identically doubling up the Gucci NYC store in Italy, and (again) all the fashion that they had to get right for each character.