Gucci! I might not be a fashion expert but even I was counting down the days until I could check out House of Gucci. I have always found the history of fashion houses and the creative artists that live and work within them fascinating. Over the years, I’ve read books and watched countless documentaries to fuel that curiosity, and now, director Ridley Scott was going to be playing out one of the greatest sagas to hit a fashion house out on the big screen. How could I not be excited?
The story that Scott chronicles is that of Maurizio Gucci (Adam Driver), the son of one of the more reclusive Guccis, Rodolfo (Jeremy Irons). Originally, Maurizio had very little to do with the fashion side of the Gucci family. That side of things was left to his uncle, Aldo (Al Pacino), who operated the business in such a way that it was known for its classic chic when it came to bags and luggage.
But that all changed when Maurizio met Patrizia Reggiani (Lady Gaga) whom he immediately fell in love with. Scared of what the relationship would mean for Maurizio, his father severed ties with him and soon Maurizio found himself closer to Aldo and his hapless dreamer cousin, Paolo (Jared Leto). The result is Patrizia urging Maurizio to become more involved with the fashion side of the business and to help turn it around after advice she has received from a clairvoyant named Pina (Salma Hayek).
As I watched this film play out on the big screen, I realised that the story itself is very Shakespearean with similarities to Macbeth. Director Scott enhances this more by allowing the film to play out in lavish homes and locations, while focussing more on dialogue rather than on action and suspense. There are times when Patrizia rants like Lady Macbeth and the suspense that does rear its head comes from the characterisation. In particular, the anticipation of who is going to act in what way when certain events happen. To be honest, there is probably more suspense in this film for those that don’t know the story of Maurzio Gucci. Because I had previously watched a documentary on his life, I often knew what was going to happen next. However, this certainly wouldn’t be the case for someone that doesn’t know already the story because Ridley Scott road-signs nothing.
For years I have heard about various governments in Europe wanting to use cinema to lure tourists to their countries. For the most part, the films that have done it have felt forced, whereas the way Scott has shot House of Gucci is purely natural, yet it had me longing to visit some of the beautiful gardens and the narrow Italian laneways in due to the way they are displayed on-screen.
Despite some strange casting decisions, the performances here are exceptional. Lady Gaga should well and truly be in contention for an Oscar for her portrayal of Patrizia, while Adam Driver is natural and at times deliberately cold as Maurizio. In real life, Maurizio was awkward and rarely showed emotion and that is something that Driver portrays thoroughly well. The strangest casting choice was perhaps Jared Leto as the aloof and simple Paolo. Leto is unrecognisable in the role and once again takes character acting to the next level. Hopefully, his name is also mentioned once or twice during awards season.
Perhaps the only real weakness of House of Gucci is a finale that seems a little rushed. I can’t say too much about it because I would be heading into spoiler territory, but the film builds to a climatic event but then seems to just sadly fall away afterwards and the fallout of the event is not explored in the way that it could have been. Still, that is a small gripe for a film that mostly holds its drama throughout its expanded runtime.
House of Gucci is a sensational drama. Ridley Scott highlights the Shakespearian nature of the story and delivers some powerful scenes that are further enhanced by a cast that are at the top of their game. Then there is also an awesome 70s and 80s soundtrack that captures the mood of the time perfectly well. If you love your fashion and drama, then this film is definitely a must-watch on the big screen.