Let me out of the “House of Gucci”

The latest film from Ridley Scott falls flat, failing to deliver on its promises of camp and humor.

gucci

MGM Studios

The Gucci family as they are portrayed in “House of Gucci.” (House of Gucci/MGM Studios)

Blythe Bouza, Staff Writer

I had high hopes for “House of Gucci.” Who wouldn’t be psyched to see Lady Gaga play a manipulative and villainous woman, the embodiment of “gaslight, gatekeep, girlboss?” While the film may masquerade itself as a camp and grandiose true crime drama, the only thing “grand” about “House of Gucci ” is its running length (nearly three hours). 

“House of Gucci” (dir. by Ridley Scott) is a lengthy depiction of the inner workings of the Gucci family and the company’s rise to international fame. It mostly centers on the relationship between Patrizia Reggiani and Maurizio Gucci (played by Lady Gaga and Adam Driver, respectively). Patrizia hired hit men to kill her husband, which led to her imprisonment and resulted in the Gucci company going public and leaving the hands of the family.

While Gaga’s performance is incredible, especially given it’s only her second film appearance (her first being “A Star is Born”), that’s immediately where the trend of successful performances in this film comes to a halt. Driver’s Maurizio feels very flat and distant, but perhaps that’s only because Gaga is giving the performance of her life. As such, the relationship between the two characters appears more than slightly imbalanced.

Performances by Al Pacino and Jared Leto also feel extremely disconnected from the rest of the film and its plot. Leto, who plays Paolo Gucci, gives a performance worthy of an unsettling children’s cartoon character or a Nintendo villain—and not in a good way. His on-screen presence is disturbing at all times, and his makeup is so garish that it made me wonder if its sole purpose was a potential Oscar nomination for “Best Makeup.” The chemistry between the whole family just feels off, as if Scott let each actor take individual creative reins on what they perceived the tone of the movie should be.

The general plot and pacing of the movie is likewise hollow and flat. Instead of a sweeping and exciting crime drama, “House of Gucci” channels more boring history documentary vibes—like a step-by-step retelling of the Gucci family’s betrayals and crimes without any sort of artistry to the storytelling. The true story definitely didn’t need to be overly embellished to make it more stimulating, but there needs to be some flair and excitement to the drama—which I’m assuming did actually occur with flair and excitement—especially when the movie is as long as it is. Additionally, the film was marketed as being centered around Patrizia’s hiring of men to murder Maurizio, yet that scene took up only 20 minutes of screentime at the very tail end of the film. I anticipated this pinnacle, this climactic moment, for so long, and it ended up feeling like a mere blip on the screen.

All this being said, I don’t necessarily regret spending three hours with Gaga and Driver, but I wouldn’t willingly choose to watch “House of Gucci” again. If anything, I’m excited to see Lady Gaga continue her acting career—as long as her next film doesn’t feel like I’ve been trapped by a bunch of Italians to sit in a dark room for three hours.