The Movie Waffler New Release Review [Cinema] - HOUSE OF GUCCI | The Movie Waffler

New Release Review [Cinema] - HOUSE OF GUCCI

house of gucci review
A young woman marries into the Gucci fashion dynasty.

Review by Eric Hillis

Directed by: Ridley Scott

Starring: Lady Gaga, Adam Driver, Jared Leto, Jeremy Irons, Jack Huston, Salma Hayek, Al Pacino

house of gucci poster

There's a scene in Ridley Scott's House of Gucci in which our anti-heroine, Patrizia Reggiani (Lady Gaga), is mocked by a group of her husband Maurizio Gucci's (Adam Driver) society friends for telling a rambling story filled with unnecessary details. If only Maurizio's mates had read the script by Becky Johnston and Roberto Bentivegna, which to use suitable parlance, has a few too many loose threads.

The marketing around House of Gucci, and indeed its opening flash-forward, suggest that the film is centred on the death of Maurizio at the hands of a hitman hired by Patrizia. Unless you’re a fashion buff, it's certainly the juiciest part of the Gucci saga, so it's odd to see it relegated to something of an afterthought, with the movie ending at the point where you might have expected the story to take off.

house of gucci review

Rather than a true crime thriller, Scott and his screenwriters have err…fashioned an in-depth look at the business dealings of the Gucci family over three decades. It all begins with the young gold-digging Patrizia meeting Maurizio at a party and practically orgasming when she learns his last name. Desperate to get Maurizio's surname and all its trappings, Patrizia seduces the nerdy law student. Things initially backfire when Maurizio is disowned by his father (Jeremy Irons) for marrying a commoner. But Patrizia is determined to get Maurizio back into the good graces of Gucci.

She does so by winning over Maurizio's uncle Aldo (Al Pacino), who is in the process of reinventing the fashion house by appealing to emerging markets. Thus begins a series of scenes in which contracts are signed and various parties are screwed over.

From an opening tracking shot that follows Patrizia's shapely rump as truckers wolf whistle in the background and an Italian pop song blares on the soundtrack, it seems Scott is aiming for a camp and over-the-top take on Italian popular culture. The movie is certainly at its most entertaining when it's aping Dynasty with bad accents, but the campness is largely pushed aside for monotonous scenes of contract signings.

house of gucci review

The movie's village idiot, Aldo's son Paulo (Jared Leto buried under makeup that gives him the appearance of a clownish Dennis Franz), wants to introduce pastels to the Gucci line, but his father insists on browns. When Scott brings metaphorical pastels to his film in the form of its more larger than life elements, it's a lot of fun, but too much of the movie consists of brown stuffiness. Scott is determined to tell us every detail about the trading history of the Gucci empire, when all most viewers really want to see is Lady Gaga vamping it up as a Mediterranean Alexis Colby.

Though she's the character with the most screen time, Patrizia never comes off as anything more than a caricature of a Lady Macbeth figure. Her leap from adoring wife to scorned vengeful killer comes out of nowhere, and the film could do with dispensing a couple of contract negotiations to provide her with a bit more depth.

house of gucci review

Now approaching 90, Scott is often lauded for still making movies with the energy of his younger self. For the most part House of Gucci however feels like it's made by a director in his eighties. Its storytelling is pedestrian and too reliant on expository dialogue. The timeline is often confusing, with anachronistic needle drops leading us to believe the film has skipped ahead several years. By the time "1995" flashed up on screen I had no idea what year the story had caught up with, as songs from the late '80s had been playing over scenes set at the start of that decade (a launch party in 1983 is soundtracked by Eric B & Rakim, who didn't form until 1986 – that DJ must have had some connections!).

There are moments that suggest the old man's still got it though. An image of Patrizia posing on a New York balcony as rain batters the Empire State Building behind her is one of the year's most striking. There's a lovely moment where the police break up a fashion show and an opera singer insists on finishing her performance regardless. But as the story drags on we find ourselves rolling up our well-tailored sleeves to check our designer watches and wishing a Paul Thomas Anderson, Martin Scorsese or Paolo Sorrentino had taken on this story of great potential.

House of Gucci
is on Prime Video UK now.