By Mr. Will Wong
HOUSE OF GUCCI has long been on atop our most anticipated of 2021, and does it live-up to our hopes? In ways it does, but it is unable to avoid some issues despite some phenomenal performances from its Oscar-caliber Ensemble.
Based on Sara Gay Forden‘s outstanding 2001 Book “House of Gucci: A Sensational Story of Murder, Madness, Glamour, and Greed“, Ridley Scott is tasked with bringing to the big screen this ambitious chronicling of both the rise of an empire and the collapse of the family behind it. The story centers on Maurizio Gucci (Adam Driver), wasting no time introducing us to the looming romance between him and eventual wife Patrizia Reggiani (Lady Gaga). Despite his father Rodolfo’s (Jeremy Irons) disapproval, their ill-fated marriage still moves ahead. This opens an opportunity for uncle Aldo (Al Pacino) to court him stateside in New York to be a successor as business expands there. Aldo recognizes the incompetence of his son Paolo (Jared Leto), who is delusional about his own talent and being able to associate his designs with the Gucci brand. And so the tussle begins. Maurizio is left trying to gain a majority control in Gucci after his father passes, even if it means severing the blood ties that Gucci had been built upon. Seeing her future and security as the queen of an empire at stake, Patrizia forges her way into the family feud and when this doesn’t yield the results she had desired, she finds herself desperate as her romance with Maurizio begins to dissipate, leading to disastrous consequences.
Clocking-in at two hours and thirty-seven minutes, House of Gucci never loses its grip of the audience, though admittedly it does feel uneven. The first two acts of the Film focus on Maurizio and Patrizia‘s relationship and what is the beginning of the fallout between the former, his uncle and cousin. In the back and forth, the Film ultimately needed better to rein-in its focus. Is House of Gucci more about the fallout of a marriage or more the fallout of a family? And because it doesn’t decide on which, this doesn’t leave room for the final act to flourish, tying things up in a hurried manner which doesn’t quite do the Film justice.
That being said, Driver delivers a masterful performance as Maurizio, who through much of the Film is told what to do and what to be, before unapologetically refuting back “You married a Gucci“, when Patrizia tells him she married a monster. It is here we are reminded precisely of the transformation he goes through finally owning his family name as a Gucci. Lady Gaga once again proves she is as skilled an Actress as she is a Musician, capturing that thirst for power in Patrizia that drives her to extreme measures. She is undeniable especially when Patrizia‘s desperation sets in and we feel everything she once had quickly is slipping out of her adorned fingers. Pacino‘s Aldo perhaps is the heart and soul despite the story’s malfunctioning moral compass, still finding it in himself to love his family even when this isn’t reciprocated, and we truly feel for him. While House of Gucci very much is a Family Drama, Leto‘s commanding performance at times plays against this tone Scott has established and this works at times, but feels sometimes is on another plane as he’s comparing shit to Cioccolata. We have read Forden‘s Book and wonder about the decision to amplify his delusions to the point of Comedy.
Harry Gregson-Williams oversees the Music in the Film, which serves to set the timeframe each major moment is set. We quite like the use of George Michael‘s “Faith“, with its organ intro playing as Maurizio and Patrizia exchange vows. Janty Yates, a frequent collaborator with Scott, is responsible for some of the fantastic Costume Design which this Film truly deserved and it really is an integral part of telling of Patrizia‘s journey as she reaches peak extravagance and then not.
HOUSE OF GUCCI still is rather satisfying, though it remains to be seen if it truly is the Awards Season contender it was intended to be. Universal Pictures Canada release it in theatres November 24, 2021.
*Please exercise caution observing COVID-19 protocols if seeing this in theatres*
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