Though Ridley Scott’s “House of Gucci” attempts to capture the glamour and luxury of its titular brand, it remains a structurally uneven, lifeless caricature of the Gucci family’s history. Released in theatres on November 24, 2021, the film follows Patrizia Reggiani (Lady Gaga) as she moves from humble origins to the gilded halls of fashion icons when she falls in love with Maurizio Gucci (Adam Driver). Mingling with giants––Aldo Gucci (Al Pacino), Paolo Gucci (Jared Leto), and Rodolfo Gucci (Jeremy Irons)––Patrizia and her rampant ambition end up changing the Gucci landscape forever. Manipulating the family structure, her actions unfurl a tale of betrayal, crime, and death. Caution: spoilers ahead.
“House of Gucci” cannot choose a tone for itself to save its life. Oscillating between Patrizia and Maurizio’s love story and a gritty saga of betrayal, the film fashions itself as a cartoonish opera. The opening of the movie sees a more calm beginning, with Patrizia and Maurizio’s quirky romance delivering on its promises. However, later in the film, all this earnestness is replaced with a more back-stabbing, cold approach. In other scenes, attempts at humor feel misguided at best—this inconsistency is what hurts the movie the most. While the love story is cute, the chronicles of deception are intriguing, and the extravagance is entertaining, combining all of these elements together, however, lowers the quality of each one.
This inconsistency manifests in the sprawling ensemble of the movie. For instance, take Jared Leto and Al Pacino, the main supporting characters of the movie. Both of them try to embody the Sicilian and extravagant aspects of these characters, which works to mixed results. Jared Leto’s performance in particular was too silly for the movie, his character being clownishly incompetent. His performance was frequently annoying, often halting his scenes completely. In addition, while Jeremy Irons had a smaller role in the movie, his presence still sticks out like a sore thumb. He is the only member of the ensemble playing completely seriously, and therefore his clashes with other characters is rather off-putting. Adam Driver also felt out of place: his soft-spoken character and feeble screen presence making him a strange lead in many scenes. Lady Gaga, as always, is the highlight of the film. Her performance consistently remains grounded and commanding.
At the heart of “House of Gucci”’s plethora of weaknesses lies the screenplay. Written by Becky Johnston and Roberto Bentivegna, it fails at delivering an engaging experience, packed with dull, on-the-nose dialogue with no deeper meaning. While the film’s second act is solid and exciting, with Patrizia planning how to win the company and expand her and her husband’s presence, this section is too brief to achieve the desired effect. Most every other scene in the movie is too slow. Everything after the climax of this sequence, which roughly starts with Maurizio divorcing Patrizia, is flat and boring. This final section in particular is the weakest: Maurizio is plainly not an interesting protagonist––the corporate antics are tedious, and Lady Gaga’s character, who is the most fascinating, is barely present. This third act felt more like an especially dry documentary than a film. It’s clear that “House of Gucci” is a bloated, overlong drag, with a 157-minute run-time the rotting cherry on top of a whole, weary sundae.
In all, “House of Gucci”’s cardinal sin is its utter, monotonous blandness. The movie promised to be an entertaining, fast-paced affair. However, it does not fulfill these goals in the slightest, with many scenes feeling dry and creating no emotional entry for the audience to attach to any character at all. These mistakes can be attributed to the editing, music, and screenplay. For all the espressos, sprawling villas, and silky cigarette smoke, “House of Gucci” feels like a scattered amalgam of unrelated movies, and receives 2/5 stars for its unbalanced pacing, indecisive direction, and subpar screenplay.