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House of Gucci (2021) – Review: Skip House of Gucci, and Watch The Last Duel Instead

November 23, 2021

Quick Note – Grade – C+ – House of Gucci has a lot to offer, but the movie becomes too muddled and eventually loses focus.  Lady Gaga’s performance is the highlight of the film, and she proves herself to be a magnetic screen presence.

When early promotional photos of House of Gucci were released, hype for the biopic/crime story shot through the roof as the world76 got to see Lady Gaga and Adam Driver looking fabulous while wearing lavish ski gear. Seeing two of the most interesting and electric performers on the planet wearing fluffy hats, and turtlenecks caught the attention of the world, and made us all hope we’d be getting something truly different. The biggest problem with House of Gucci is that it follows the trends of movies like Goodfellas, American Made, and Blow, which feature people rising to riches, then collapsing in spectacular fashion. Yes, it’s based on a true story which means it needs to stay close to the actual events, but, after an energetic and likable start, it falls back onto familiar tropes, and loses focus on its characters. 

House of Gucci revolves around the spectacular rise, and just as spectacular fall of Patrizia Reggiani (Lady Gaga), who after marrying Maurizio Gucci (Adam Driver), finds herself wildly healthy, and dangerously ambitious as she becomes part of the Gucci empire which is controlled by brothers Aldo (Al Pacino) and Rodolfo Gucci (Jeremy Irons). Since millions of dollars are involved, the family inevitably begins to splinter, and it leads to prison sentences, estrangements, poverty, and murder. If you’re familiar with the story, the film loses most of its tension, but it still maintains an entertaining dose of wonky Italian accents, and Jared Leto wearing lots of prosthetics to play Paolo Gucci, the blacksheep of the family who provides welcome doses of oddball humor via his love of colorful outfits and pigeons,

Since it’s directed by Ridley Scott, House of Gucci is technically polished and loaded with excellent actors fully committing to their roles. The production design by Arthur Max (Gladiator, Prometheus, The Martian) is suitably luxurious, and the Italian locations add a level of authenticity and beauty to the proceedings. The costume design by Janty Yates (Gladiator, The Martian) is the MVP as the actors look lavish and perfect in tailored suits, form-fitting dresses and everyday wear that’s more expensive than most people’s entire wardrobes. The cinematography by Dariusz Wolski (The Martian, Prometheus) is at its most confident when it’s following Patrizia as she dances through a swanky club, or she’s planning something devious with her spiritual guide Giuseppina Auriemma (Salma Hayek – having a blast). The camera clearly loves Lady Gaga, and it’s a bit of a shame seeing her character being sidelined as the film progresses. It would’ve been nice to see the film stay closer to Patrizia because seeing her go from kind and ambitious, to murderous and ambitious would’ve been enough to fuel a narrative. However, it’s still enjoyable watching Adam Driver, Jared Leto, Al Pacino, Jeremy Irons, and Jack Houston angling for power and control. 

 It would be neat to work on a Ridley Scott set to see how he and his trusted crew members work together. There must be trust and shorthand communication, because since 2015, he and his crew have released The Martian, All the Money in the World, House of Gucci, The Last Duel, and Alien: Covenant. All of these films look excellent and feature standout performances, gigantic sets and lavish design. It’s not like he’s churning out Roger Corman style dreck, he and his team are making quality cinema at breakneck speeds. 
Final thoughts: House of Gucci is worth a watch, but it does lose steam as it moves towards it’s violent conclusion.

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