House of Gucci

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Any movie pushing three hours should have a reason to be that that long. I once thought 120 minutes or less was the standard, but 2021 seems to be upping that tradition. A few anecdotal examples: F9: The Fast Saga (143 min), In the Heights (143 min), Respect (145 min), Army of the Dead (148 min), Dune (155 min), Eternals (156 min), No Time to Die (163 min), Zack Snyder’s Justice League (242 min). The thing is, while I enjoyed most of the aforementioned films, every single one of them would have benefited from some judicious tightening of the narrative. House of Gucci is a breezy 90-minute picture buried in a 2 hour and 38-minute slog.

The chronicle depicts Patrizia Reggiani (Lady Gaga), a social climber who meets Maurizio Gucci (Adam Driver) at a party. They have a whirlwind romance and she marries her way into the organization of the Italian luxury label. This is to the disdain of his father Rodolfo (Jeremy Irons) who initially disowns him. Al Pacino plays his more flamboyant brother, Aldo, and Jared Leto is Aldo’s wayward son, Paolo.

The screenplay written by Becky Johnston and Roberto Bentivegna is adapted from the book by Sara Gay Forden. This story begins in the 1970s and while the label is respected, the luxury fashion house is seen as a little stale and old-fashioned. Tom Ford (Reeve Carney) will change that perception. Aldo and Rodolfo currently each possess 50% of Gucci and Patrizia pushes her husband to gain control of the company. This could’ve been a delightful romp of a soap opera that recounts the custody of an empire but it gets bogged down on the banalities of marriage, the details of who controls what, and other financial matters that aren’t particularly interesting.

What the production does have are some charismatic performances. Lady Gaga and Jared Leto are both affecting exaggerated accents in the movie I enjoyed – a campy escapade that is a lot of fun. They’re giving us personality – Leto in particular. He’s unrecognizable as the paunchy and bald underdog who wants to prove his ability as a designer in his own right. One may not appreciate his theatrical achievement as much as I did, but at least he’s memorable. Salma Hayek is Patrizia’s fortune-telling confidante and she is also an amusing character. Meanwhile — dull by comparison — are Adam Driver and Jeremy Irons giving us dependable acting in a completely different movie that’s more of a dour drama. Energizing the mood are the often anachronistic needle drops. For example, Donna Summer’s “On the Radio” is heard at a soiree in 1978 and George Michael’s “Faith” at a wedding which cleverly begins with the song’s cathedral organ intro.

Passion! Betrayal! Greed! Jealousy! A true-crime epic about fashion and wealth should be a celebration of wicked excess. There’s a reason why prime-time serials like Dynasty and Dallas ruled the Nielsens in their heyday. House of Gucci could have lifted a lesson or two from those TV shows. I wanted glamour and opulence but director Ridley Scott is more interested in the boardrooms and backroom discussions of business. It’s not a spoiler that the saga ultimately concerns a highly publicized murder. That sensational event should have been placed at the center of the drama. Here the deed is pushed near the end like an afterthought. A title card informs us of a trial that would’ve been a riveting sight to see. Instead, we suffer through an account that’s mostly concerned with who owns what shares. There’s an entertaining film contained within that some clever (and gutsy) editing could have extracted from the distended runtime of House of Gucci. Sadly audiences will have to “separate the wheat from the chaff” to experience it.


6 Responses to “House of Gucci”

  1. Kathy Ailand Says:

    Lady Gaga had a wonderful wardrobe. From a young women to an older women. I enjoyed this film,

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I was just leaving a comment on another blog just now about how some movies I have seen lately have been overly long! Haha! Small blogging world! That’s a crazy statistic, though. All of these movies pushing into 2.5 hour territory. Jeez.

    I’m interested in House of Gucci, even if Scott’s focus seems to be frustrating viewers. I want to see how Gaga does again, and surrounded by an incredible cast. Glad to hear Leto delivers another memorable character.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I wish this wasn’t so long. Ugh. I still liked it ok. Gaga was my favorite part. Jared was pretty wacky, that added some much needed camp. Loved the Donna Summer music, even if it didn’t match the time period. 3 ⭐️

    Liked by 1 person

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